EU could partially suspend new privacy rules to fight online child abuse

Ylva Johansson, EU Home Affairs Commissioner
Ylva Johansson, EU Home Affairs Commissioner Copyright Euronews
Copyright Euronews
By Jack ParrockAlessio Dell'Anna
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There are an estimated 16 million images of child abuse on the internet - at least 800,000 of them from within the EU.

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The European Commission is calling to suspend part of a new privacy directive for five years after determining it could prevent the voluntary reporting of online images of child abuse.

EU Home Affairs Commissioner Ylva Johansson said the new ePrivacy Directive regulation, set to be enforced from the end of December, has the "unintended effect" of making such voluntary detection "illegal".

"That would close the eye on what's going on on child sexual abuse on the internet", she added. "We can't let that happen".

The two articles that the EU Commission aims to suspend relate to making watermarks on videos and pictures private, and to the detection of online grooming.

Some experts are concerned that these measures won't only be used to crack down on images of children.

"The ability to talk privately, encrypted, freely, is extremely important and valuable for other vulnerable populations that need to be able to communicate in an encrypted setting without fear of retribution from governments or other actors," Julian Jaursch, Project Director at German think-tank Stiftung Neue Verantwortung, told Euronews.

According to the EU, this directive is meant to ensure "the protection of private life and the confidentiality of communications and personal data", making sure that electronic communications services comply with the directive "when processing communications data."

Watch the Euronews Tonight report in the player above.

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