The EU Commission yesterday presented a proposal to update criminal law provisions on the sexual abuse and sexual exploitation of children. Pirate Party Member of the European Parliament Patrick Breyer comments:
“The proposals fall far short of truly protecting children better. Apart from sensible proposals, the Commission is riding on a wave of criminalisation and tougher penalties, without any proof of effectiveness. Following controversial German legislation, encrypted messenger services, anonymous forums or encrypted file hosting services are being exposed to the risk of criminalisation and closure for ‘facilitating or promoting criminal offences’ (Article 8).
A dangerous gap in the proposal is the often amateurish and under-equipped prosecution of child sexual abuse. We need EU-wide standards and guidelines for criminal investigations into child abuse offences, including the identification of victims and the necessary technical means. We need to collect statistics on how long investigations take and how successful they are in order to improve. Law enforcement should be obliged to report criminal material for removal instead of – as in the Boystown case – simply watching it spread.
The proposal also contains far too little to better prevention of child sexual abuse. We need a systematic scientific evaluation and implementation of multidisciplinary prevention programmes. The EU needs to play a key role in facilitating exchange between researchers and practitioners, in the evaluation, implementation and assessment of the best prevention approaches. It is ridiculous that the draft proposes a mere database for this purpose.”