Safer Internet

Committee work

EuroISPA’s members absolutely condemn the misuse of Internet services to distribute Child Sexual Abuse Material (CSAM). Indeed, EuroISPA members are at the forefront of efforts to protect children online, and use their practical experience and infrastructure control to assist law enforcement authorities. In addition to cooperating with law enforcement under the Notice and Takedown Mechanism EuroISPA members are strong supporters of the European network of Internet Hotlines, with four member associations actually managing the national Hotline in their countries. The EuroISPA Safer Internet committee brings together all Internet Service Providers involved in the sector’s efforts to protect children online, and focuses on the sharing of best practice by ISPs for preservation of evidence and policy development with public authorities.

Key dossiers

Directive on Combating the Sexual Abuse and Sexual Exploitation of Children and Child Pornography (implementation report)

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Latest updates 

March/April: EuroISPA co-organises European Internet Forum event on Hotline funding

On Wednesday 27 April, EuroISPA co-organised a policy breakfast in the European Parliament focused on protecting children online.

The event was hosted by the European Internet Forum, and featured panelists from Europol, Missing Children Europe, and the International Association of Hotlines (INHOPE).

The funding of Hotlines was a key topic of discussion, as well as new technological challenges in the fight against Child Sexual Abuse Online.

The event was organised with a view to the upcoming European Parliament report on the implementation of Directive 2011/93/EU, which enshrines the current legislative framework for tackling CSAM.

A video overview of the event can be found here.

March/April: Council of Europe adopts new Strategy for Children's Rights

The Council of Europe has adopted a new Strategy for the Rights of the Child 2016-2021.

The Strategy contains language on protecting children in the online sphere.

Key articles:

  • Article 21: “The digital environment also exposes children to harmful content and its effects, privacy and data protection issues and other risks, including online sexual abuse and excessive exposure to sexualised images. In some cases, such as cyber-bullying and self-exposure, children’s own conduct online may harm others and represent a risk to them.”
  • Article 59:  “Council of Europe conventions provide a solid basis for the protection of children from potential risks to their safety, security and privacy in the digital environment. The Council of Europe will promote, monitor and support the implementation of the Council of Europe Convention on the Protection of Children against Sexual Exploitation and Sexual Abuse, the Convention on Cybercrime and its Additional Protocol, and the Convention for the Protection of Individuals with regard to Automatic Processing of Personal Data, the Convention on Preventing and Combating Violence against Women and Domestic Violence, the Convention on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings, as well as the relevant Recommendations by the Committee of Ministers”
  • Article 61: “Internet and the social media are widely used to advocate hate speech, radicalisation and terrorism among young people. As a response, the Council of Europe will continue the “No Hate Speech” campaign and invest in a set of measures in the educational field and on the Internet as set out in the Action Plan “The fight against violent extremism and radicalisation leading to terrorism” adopted by the Committee of Ministers on 19 May 2015”

Context

This new policy document has been endorsed by the governments of the 47 European countries that comprise the Council of Europe. It sets out the various actions that CoE will undertake over the next five years in the area of rights of the child. The strategy will be officially adopted at a high-level conference in Sofia, Bulgaria in early April.

The new strategy can be read here.

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Previous updates 

February 2016: Civil Society coalition launches implementation report on CSAM Directive 

A coalition of child rights advocacy groups have launched a report that examines the transposition of Directive 2011/93/EU on combating sexual abuse and sexual exploitation of children and child pornography by 27 EU Member States.

The report includes a country-by-country breakdown of provisions related to Article 25 of the Directive, on the taking of measures against websites containing or disseminating child abuse material.

The headline findings on Article 25:

  • The overwhelming majority of Member States provide for some kind of removal mechanisms within their legislative or self-regulatory framework.
  • Most Member States regulate removal via the E-Commerce Directive or within the framework of a criminal court procedure.
  • All 27 Member States assessed operate Hotlines to coordinate reporting and removal of CSAM.
  • The majority of Member States have implemented some form of blocking, but few have introduced safeguards in relation to blocking and takedown measures.
    • Members States where blocking is not implemented have pointed to a conflict between the right of a child to be protected from illegal content and the right to freedom of expression.
    • In some Member States, temporary access blocking has been implemented as a stop-gap solution to removal-at-source.
    • In some Member States, the infrequent updating of blocking lists is a concern.
    • New technologies and the growth of the Dark Net pose challenges that cannot be tackled through the existing legal framework.

The general overview of Article 25 implementation begins at page 74 of the report. Detailed reports for each country are also contained within, which may be useful for national-level comparative analysis.

Next steps

  • The European Commission will publish its official implementation report on Directive 2011/93/EU in Q2 this year
  • The European Parliament’s Civil Liberties committee will then begin a non-legislative report outlining the Parliament’s policy “wish-list” for the future fight against CSAM.

February 2016: UNICEF seeks stakeholder feedback on net Safer Internet tool for ICT companies 

UNICEF has launched a consultation seeking feedback on its new Child Online Safety Assessment tool.

This tool aims at supporting ICT companies in assessing how the rights of children online can be more effectively integrated into their operations.

Inter alia, the tool includes information for ICT companies on how to deal with the transmission of CSAM on their networks.

A consultation on the tool’s effectiveness is now underway, and is open until March 18th.

General release of the tool is expected in Q2 2016.

More details on the tool and the consultation can be found here.

 

January 2016: European Parliament's Digital Single Market report includes focus on Safer Internet 

On 19 January the European Parliament adopted its own-initiative report on the European Commission’s Digital Single Market strategy.

The report sets out MEP’s “wish-list” for what the upcoming DSM legislative proposals ought to look like.

The Parliament's report contained several reference to Safer Internet policy issues:

82. Calls on the Commission to advance policies and a legal framework to tackle cybercrime and illegal content and materials on the internet, including hate speech, that will be in full compliance with fundamental rights as set out in the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union, in particular the right to freedom of expression and information, with existing EU or Member State legislation and with the principles of necessity, proportionality, due legal process and the rule of law; considers that, in order to achieve that goal, it is necessary to:

  • provide consistent and efficient law enforcement tools for European and national police agencies and law enforcement authorities,
  • provide clear guidelines on how to tackle illegal content online, including hate speech,
  • support public-private partnerships and dialogue between public and private entities, in compliance with existing EU legislation,
  • clarify the role of intermediaries and online platforms with respect to the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union,
  • ensure that the creation within Europol of the European Union Internet Referral Unit (EU IRU) is founded on a legal basis that is appropriate for its activities,
  • ensure special measures to combat the sexual exploitation of children online and effective cooperation between all stakeholders to guarantee the rights and protection of children on the internet and encourage initiatives that strive to make the internet safe for children, and
  • cooperate with the relevant stakeholders in promoting education and awareness-raising campaigns

91. Highlights the fact that the fast-growing number of attacks on networks and acts of cybercrime calls for a harmonised response from the EU and its Member States with a view to ensuring a high level of network and information security; believes that providing security on the internet entails the protection of networks and critical infrastructure, ensuring the ability of law enforcement agencies to fight crime, including terrorism, violent radicalisation and sexual abuse and sexual exploitation of children online, and use of data that are strictly necessary to fight crime online and offline; stresses that security, thus defined, together with protection of fundamental rights in cyberspace, is crucial to reinforcing trust in digital services and is therefore a necessary basis for establishing a competitive digital single market.

January 2015: European Parliament commissions study to assess impact of Connecting Europe Facility

The European Parliament’s Research Service has commissioned a study to assess the success of the Connecting Europe Facility.

The study collects stakeholder feedback on the three CEF strands thus far, and includes recommendations for the future of the programme.

Survey findings (related to CEF funding levels) (page 22):

  • 40 % of respondents considered budget allocations to be sufficient
  • 44 % note budget limitations
  • 16 % noted (‘don’t know’).
  • Individual survey responses include the following:
    • Budget allocations are not aligned with the volume of technically eligible proposals
    •  There might be a bias for large-scale corridor projects, with more support required for small to medium-size projects offering high value outputs
    • One respondent commented in more detail on the budget for the area of telecommunications: ‘The Safer Internet Centers have suffered over many years from insufficient budget (when grants covered 75% and accepted 30 % as indirect); Now 50 % funding with 7 % indirect is a formula to kill them. The logic that Member States will now assume their responsibility and co-fund them has the opposite effect. Member States are interested to "invest" in them only if they take them over, which means that they will no longer be able to attract volunteers and build up enthusiasm for such projects’.

Recommendations (page 24)

  1. Enhance the current stakeholder dialogue, in order to secure a regular feedback from Member States, project managers, public authorities, private companies, financial institutions and financial intermediaries alike.
  2. Investigate claims that the Facility has a  'top-down nature', which can result in a bias in favour of large-scale corridor projects.
  3. The CEF should finance well-prepared and bankable projects with structures designed to accommodate private financing (i.e. non-grant based model).
  4. The CEF should create more linkages with alternative EU financing mechanisms (e.g. European Investment Bank)
  5. The mid-term review of the Facility should explore whether CEF has avoided the following shortfalls:
    1. A lack of investment leverage, with EU funds not being spent on projects of common EU interest, and co-financing rates too low to trigger the investment needed;
    2. The financing of poorly managed and lagging projects
    3. A minor degree of private investor involvement.
    4. The complex nature of CEF-financed projects requires a certain degree of flexibility allowing for an ‘on-going’ contract renegotiation process during the projects’ implementation.

The full study can be read here.

December 2015: European Parliament publishes study on combatting child sexual abuse online

The European Parliament’s Research Service has published a study on combatting child sexual abuse online. The study provides an overview of existing legislation at EU and International level, the role of stakeholders, and current policy issues.

Members may be particularly interested in sections three and four, which deal with trends and policy responses, and future policy recommendations.

As per recommendations, the study calls for:

•             A reopening of the blocking/removing of websites provisions of Directive 2011/93/EU, as it constitutes a compromise solution

•             Promotion of self-regulation and voluntary undertakings by the ICT industry

•             The full alignment of national legislations with the provisions of Directive 2011/93/EU

The study was commissioned by the Parliament’s Civil Liberties (LIBE) committee in the context of the Parliament’s upcoming Implementation report on Directive 2011/93/EU.

You can read the full report here.

December 2015: European Commission launches new Public-Private Partnership on countering terrorism online

On Wednesday 3 December, the EU Internet Forum public-private partnership was launched in Brussels.

The forum brings together EU Interior Ministers, high-level representatives of major internet companies, Europol, the EU Counter Terrorism Co-ordinator and the European Parliament. Its goal is to reach a joint, voluntary approach to detect and address harmful material online.

At the EU Internet Forum, discussions will focus on how to protect the public from the spread of terrorist material and terrorist exploitation of communication channels to facilitate and direct their activities. Discussions will also focus on how to make better use of the Internet to challenge terrorist narratives and online hate speech.

You can find the Commission’s press release here.

The new initiative comes as the Parliament recently adopted a new resolution on preventing radicalisation and the Commission continues to reflect on whether there is a need for increased EU-level instruments to fight terror, including in the online sphere.

December 2015: European Institutions’ Implementation Reports on Directive 2013/93/EU: State-of-play

European Commission DG Home Affairs was expected to deliver its Implementation Report on the Directive in December 2015. However, owing to a multitude of delays, the Commission does not expect to publish the Report until April-May 2016.

At the same time, the European Parliament Civil Liberties committee is planning to undertake its own non-legislative Implementation Report on the Directive.

 Monika Hohlmeier (EPP, DE) remains the LIBE committee rapporteur. The Parliament’s Culture and Education (CULT) and Women’s Rights (FEMM) committees will supply Opinions to the report.

  • The Parliament would like as much as possible to await the publication of the Commission’s Implementation report before beginning its own report. Indeed, the Parliament’s report is envisaged to be a political-level response to the technical findings of the Commission’s analysis.
  • The Parliament’s political groups will convene in early January to sketch out the parameters of the report and the timeline.

Next steps

MEPs working on the Parliament’s reports will likely seek EuroISPA input on the Internet-related aspects of the CSAM Directive once the report drafting begins.

November 2015: European Commission launches 2015 Safer Internet programme call

The 2015 Connecting Europe Facility Safer Internet call for proposals has been launched. The call provides funding for various safer Internet initiatives across the EU, including the operational costs of Hotlines.  The deadline for submitting applications is 19 January 2016. Full details of the project eligibility requirements, application process and funding details can be found here.

November 2015: European Parliament Civil Liberties committee focuses on law enforcement challenges of cybercrime

The European Parliament Civil Liberties committee has commissioned a report on the law enforcement challenges of cybercrime, including Child Sexual Abuse Material (CSAM). The report observes that much of the EU’s policy to fight cybercrime is based on non-legislative measures, including operational cooperation and ad hoc public-private partnerships. As a consequence, the European Parliament and civil society are largely excluded from policy development, impeding public scrutiny and accountability particularly to safeguard fundamental rights.

Concerning CSAM, the report notes that:

[While successful EU action to combat cybercrime [CSAM] depends on close cooperation between law enforcement agencies and the private sector, by creating public-private partnerships for conducting surveillance on suspicious individuals or websites, for blocking or censoring content, or for investigating criminal activities, for example, there is a significant risk that processes affecting fundamental rights enshrined in the EU Charter are hidden from public scrutiny, have a disproportionate impact (either generally or on already marginalised groups), cannot be challenged by affected parties, and undermine trust in governance on the part of internet users and digital rights advocates] – Section 2.2.3.3, page 37

The report makes the following recommendation of interest:

  1. The European Parliament should demand a review of EU cybercrime infrastructure and powers
  2. The European Parliament should ensure that the development of any cooperation/information-sharing framework guarantees rights
  3. The European Parliament should ensure that the CoE Cybercrime Convention’s obligations on Member States are consistent with EU law and fundamental rights protection

You can read the full report here.

September 2015: Parliament prepares to undertake implementation report on CSAM Directive 

The European Parliament is currently in the process of appointing rapporteurs for its implementation report on the the CSAM Directive. The report is being led by the Parliament's Civil Liberties committee (LIBE) with German EPP MEP Monika Hohlmeier serving as the report's drafter-in-chief. The Parliament Culture and Education committee (CULT) and Women's Rights and Gender Equality committee (FEMM) will provide additional Opinions for the report.

The report is not expected to begin until early 2016, once the European Commission's Implementation Report on the Directive has been published. That report is being coordinated by the Directorate General for Migration and Home Affairs.

August 2015: Commission publishes “Mapping safer Internet policies in the Member States” study

The study 'Benchmarking of Safer Internet policies in Member States' was undertaken in the context of the European strategy for a Better Internet for Children (BIK). The main objective was to provide a comprehensive analysis of how BIK related challenges are addressed in policies and initiatives, and to develop a sustainable benchmarking tool - the "BIK Map" for future policy work on European level.

In particular, the study noted that “only rarely are budgets specifically earmarked for the Safer Internet for Children components” (p. iv or 7). Moreover, it notes that “uncertainty  in  public  funding  is  a  threat  for  the  future  activity  of  these national platforms. We recommend the EU countries to act for their sustainability” (p.vi or 9).

Study recommendations:

  • Recommendation 1: strengthen the European platform for dialogue on BIK-related issues
  • Recommendation 2: implement the BIK Map on a regular basis
  • Recommendation 3: foster the development of standards for data collection
  • Recommendation 4: enhance the quality in BIK-related  policy  governance and design

More information here

EuroISPA brings EU policymakers and industry together to discuss progress in efforts to create a safer Internet

On the morning of June 17, EuroISPA brought together leading EU policymakers to discuss the industry-led efforts to protect children online, in a policy breakfast co-hosted by MEPs Anna Maria Corazza Bildt (EPP) and Caterina Chinnici (S&D) in the European Parliament.

The Towards a Safer Internet for Children gathering focused on the crucial role played by the network of European Internet Hotlines, and the instrumental value of EU co-funding in sustaining the fight against Child Sexual Abuse Material (CSAM) online.

In his keynote presentation, EuroISPA Safer Internet committee co-chair Paul Durrant briefed attendees on the long-standing activity of EuroISPA in the area of child protection online. Focusing specifically on the Association’s stewardship of several national Hotlines dedicated to fighting CSAM, he thanked EU policymakers for their support in sustaining the fight thus far, but warned that the current gains were at risk if European Commission co-funding of Hotlines is not secured beyond its current expiration in 2018.

Attendees at the event included MEPs, officials from the European Commission and Council of Europe, and Internet Service Providers from across the EU.

More information here.

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