Boy in the field

Safer Internet Day: How the EU Children’s Directive should be

As many of you already know, a proposal for a directive aimed at combating the sexual abuse and sexual exploitation of children, as well as child pornography, is currently being debated in the European Parliament. On the occasion of the celebration in Europe of Safe Internet Day, we at PROTEGELES would like to salute such an important initiative.

Our organization is a member in Spain of the European NGO Alliance for Child Safety Online (eNACSO), the only network of NGOs in the EU dedicated to the defense and safety of children on the Internet. All eNACSO members consider it necessary to support the draft directive and to request the inclusion of certain specific provisions related to the Internet in order to ensure better protection of children on the Internet.

The objective of the new directive is to prevent offenses linked to the sexual abuse and exploitation of children and to protect the victims thereof. We, here at PROTEGELES and eNACSO, believe, however, that for this objective to become a reality, it is necessary for the directive to include several aspects which, apparently, are still a source of controversy and debate among parliamentarians.

For instance, the new directive must include in the definition of child pornography the use of realistic images of imaginary children. This means that it would be pointless to prove that there is an actual child behind every image. These images are part of a subculture of child sexual abuse material that criminals tend to collect along with images of actual children. If this type of image is not considered illegal, law enforcement efforts to disrupt criminal networks become very complicated because it gives these criminals a legitimate way to grow their networks, through which they can also end up distributing images of actual children.

In addition, we believe it is extremely important to make the recruitment of children for sexual purposes – so-called grooming – a crime. Criminalizing grooming is vital so that law enforcement can intervene to prevent an adult and child from meeting instead of waiting until the abuse has actually taken place. Likewise, it is essential to point out that grooming also takes place outside of the Internet; that is why we urge the European Parliament to make this type of behavior in all its possible aspects punishable by law.

To finish, At PROTEGELES, we believe that the most important task in our fight is to remove and remove from the Internet all child sexual abuse images that have been identified to date. However, where this cannot be achieved quickly, we believe that blocking access to pages known to contain child sexual abuse images can be a very important step. This is not a perfect solution as there are other technologies that could be used to access illicit material. However, given the popularity of the internet, it is essential that internet service providers do all they can to disrupt traffic and reduce the availability of child pornography on the internet.

These images not only represent children undergoing all kinds of humiliation and abuse, but constitute a very serious violation of the right to privacy of these children when dispersed on the Internet. Pop stars, footballers and wealthy people would act quickly to protect their rights. Unfortunately, these children cannot do this. Insisting that these images of abuse remain accessible to everyone on the internet while politicians debate international trade treaties or how much money law enforcement should have to tackle these issues faster is simply unacceptable. .

Web page blocking is a very effective tool at our disposal to reduce the number of people online who may have access to these images. This is a crucial and very useful measure to protect children on the Internet. Protecting children and guaranteeing their rights must be our priority.

That is why, at PROTEGELES, we celebrate the International Safe Internet Day in the hope that very soon there will be legislation in Europe capable of effectively protecting children in the digital world and in turn guaranteeing that they can exercise all the rights provided for them in the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child.

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