Negotiators from the European Council and Parliament have reached a provisional agreement to temporarily allow electronic communications services such as Facebook and Microsoft to scan for and remove online sexual abuse, according to a press release Thursday. This agreement, which is set to further cover anti-grooming, will be implemented until permanent legislation is announced by the European Commission to replace it.
The agreement follows the passing of the European Electronic Communications Code (EECC) in December, which blocked tech giants from scanning for such material as part of the ePrivacy Directive of 2002.
The present agreement shall provide for the derogation of the directive and allow providers to continue to detect, remove, and report child sexual abuse material and apply anti-grooming technologies. According to the Commission, this will neither halt the effect of the Charter of Fundamental Rights, nor that of General Data Protection Regulation.
The Commission itself has announced that replacement legislation will be proposed by the second quarter of 2021 to provide for the long-term protection of children online.
According to Portuguese Minister of State for the Economy and Digital Transition and President of the Council, Pedro Siza Vieira, “protecting children against any form of violence or abuse is paramount for the EU” and that “it has been a priority for the Council to conclude these temporary rules as quickly as possible”.
This provisional agreement is still subject to approval by the council and has been submitted to the Council’s Permanent Representatives Committee for endorsement.