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Europe’s CSAM scanning plan unpicked


The European Union has formally presented its proposal to move from a situation in which some tech platforms voluntarily scan for child sexual abuse material (CSAM) to something more systematic — publishing draft legislation that will create a framework which could obligate digital services to use automated technologies to detect and report existing or new CSAM, and also identify and report grooming activity targeting kids on their platforms.
The EU proposal — for “a regulation laying down rules to prevent and combat child sexual abuse” (PDF) — is intended to replace a temporary and limited derogation from the bloc’s ePrivacy rules, which was adopted last year in order to enable messaging platforms to continue long-standing CSAM scanning activity which some undertake voluntarily.
However that was only ever a stop-gap measure. EU lawmakers say they need a permanent solution to tackle the explosion of CSAM and the abuse the material is linked to — noting how reports of child sexual abuse online rising from 1M+ back in 2014 to 21.7M reports in 2020 when 65M+ CSAM images and videos were also discovered — and also pointing to an increase in online grooming seen since the pandemic.
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