In the context of the proposal for a regulation of the Parliament and of the Council on guidelines for trans-European telecommunications networks, EuroISPA has sent a letter to the Members of the ITRE committee to draw their attention to the importance of maintaining the Safer Internet Programme’s funding for hotlines.
Currently, the European Parliament has to vote through amendments to the proposal for a regulation of the Parliament and of the Council on guidelines for trans-European telecommunications networks. It is essential that this package includes allocated funds to support INHOPE Network Co-Ordination along with hotlines within each member state.
As all our members have developed notice and take-down procedures in order to remove illegal content at source, and some of them also operate “hotlines” funded by the European Commission mainly to fight against child pornography, we feel very concerned about the future of the Safer Internet Programme under the Connecting Europe Facility.
The hotlines’ role is crucial in receiving, processing and assessing anonymous reports of alleged child sexual abuse material and in cooperating closely with law enforcement to apprehend pedophiles.
The main objective of hotlines is the fast removal of child sexual abuse material at source. The strength of the INHOPE network comes from the number of members over Europe and rest of the World (44 members in 38 countries) ability to act instantaneously to obtain the take-down of an illegal content forwarded by another hotline.
As a result of the successful operation of hotlines, according to the latest report from INHOPE, they have handled even more reports in 2012 (+25%), than the previous year. Moreover, almost 90% of illegal content is removed between one week, and 60% within 72 hours.
If hotlines are deprived of anything less than adequate and full European funding allocated under the Connecting Europe Facility, their work would be definitively disrupted. Furthermore, the concrete application of several European texts , would be definitively undermined. In particular, the notice and take-down procedures, constantly promoted by European institutions for several years, and improved thanks to the cooperation between hotlines, Law Enforcement and ISPs to speed up removal of content, will lose any efficiency.
Europe should be aware that for several hotlines the EU funds are the only source of income, without which they would disappear in the medium term. Nor can it be expected that, in a period of economic crisis, hotlines could be financed exclusively through private donations.