Social media platforms could be forced to do more to tackle child sexual abuse online, under new European Union plans. They are expected to be announced in the coming months.

The rules would replace current interim legislation that allows the voluntary reporting of child sexual abuse material (CSAM) with a legal obligation to recognise, report and remove it.  EU home affairs commissioner Ylva Johansson told Germany’s Welt am Sonntag newspaper:

“I will propose legislation in the coming months that will require companies to detect, report, and remove child sexual abuse.”

The parent company of Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp Meta, would be particularly affected by any change in regulations, added Johansson. The company currently accounts for around 95 per cent of child sexual abuse notifications.

In 2020, internet service providers and social media platforms in the EU filed 22 million reports of child sexual abuse. This is thought to be just a fraction of the actual number of incidents.

According to a 2020 report by the Internet Watch Foundation, France, Latvia, Luxembourg, and the Netherlands appear among the top ten countries hosting child sexual abuse URLs.  Of those, the Netherlands was by far the leader, playing host to over 117,000 CSAM web pages.

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Special Projects Editor