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European child abuse image law a step closer

Committee approval

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The European Parliament's Civil Liberties Committee has passed a draft law to remove all child sex abuse images hosted in EU countries.

The law says that if images are hosted outwith the EU they should be blocked by individual member states.

The Committee made some changes - the law previously made removal of images mandatory.

Now the law says that, if the material is hosted outside the community, countries "may take the necessary measures in accordance with national legislation to prevent access to such content in their territory". Members of the European Parliament also said such blocks must use transparent procedures, inform users of the reason for the block and allow an appeals process.

The law also sets minimum sentences for those found guilty of 22 child abuse offences. New offences such as "grooming" have also been created. Employers get the right to obtain information on employees' previous sex offences.

Internet Service Providers, or at least those represented by EuroISPA, were objecting to parts of the law which made removal of images compulsory.

But we guess their lobbying paid off. President of EuroISPA Martin Hutty said today: “Removal of the content at source is the real solution to the problem.

"The European Union should use its diplomatic relationships with third countries hosting such material to enhance international procedures to delete the illegal content and successfully prosecute criminals.”

The Parliament and Council now have to agree the details of the law, which they hope to do in the first half of the year. Nation states then have two years to bring their own laws into line with those of the European Union.

The Parliament believes the problem is getting worse and that around 200 abusive images are uploaded every day.

The European statement is here. ®

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