Future of national Hotlines hangs in the balance as MEPs vote on CSAM Resolution

Future of national Hotlines hangs in the balance as MEPs vote on CSAM Resolution

The very existence of Hotlines dedicated to fighting Child Sexual Abuse Material (CSAM) on the Internet may come under threat in 2016. This will be the case if the European Parliament adopts its Resolution on the fight against CSAM in plenary this Wednesday without amending the glaring omission on supporting Hotlines. 

The European Internet Service Providers (EuroISPA) represents national hotlines in Ireland, France, Austria, and Germany. Hotlines are essential to the process of “notice and takedown”, as they provide the means for members of the public to alert ISPs to the presence of suspected CSAM on the Internet. Hotline operators are trained in all legal issues surrounding CSAM, and liaise directly with law enforcement and ISPs around the world to ensure a safer Internet environment.

With the volume and complexity of reports increasing each year and funding already cut to the bone, many national Hotlines face financial difficulty. Thus far, European Hotlines have been supported by European Commission funding. But with this funding set to end permanently in 2016, most Hotlines will not be able to meet operational costs and will simply disappear.

In a letter to MEPs last week, EuroISPA implored lawmakers to use the Resolution to launch a discussion with the European Commission and Member States to find solutions to the Hotline funding crisis. If this does not occur, the system of Hotlines which has proven so effective in the battle against CSAM, may collapse.

EuroISPA Safer Internet committee co-chair Carole Gay said: “For years, Hotlines have been leading the fight to end the abhorrence of child sexual abuse material on the Internet. Unless MEPs act to highlight the Hotline funding crisis in plenary this Wednesday, the whole Hotline system across Europe will come under threat."

EuroISPA Safer Internet committee co-chair Paul Durrant said: “If the Resolution is adopted as stands, we will have the contradictory situation of a European Parliament supporting the fight against CSAM, while at the same time undermining the very existence of the most powerful tool in the battle against such content."

Read the full EuroISPA letter to MEPs on the Resolution on the fight against CSAM: 1503_Motion_for_resolution_on_CSAM