Members' Research Service By / December 6, 2022

Combating child sexual abuse online [EU Legislation in Progress][Policy podcast]

Over the past 20 years, the volume of child sexual abuse materials (CSAM) online has increased dramatically worldwide following increased connectivity and technological development.

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Written by Mar Negreiro (2nd edition, updated on 12.06.2023).

Online child sexual abuse materials (CSAM) and grooming (manipulative practices aimed at exploiting and abusing people), now increasingly targeting younger children, have been spreading at an alarming rate. In 2022, the more than 32 million reports of suspected online child sexual abuse, represented a historical peak. Among these reports, those on grooming marked an 82 % increase.

Most of the activities detected were hosted in Europe. In response to this situation, on 11 May 2022 the European Commission adopted a proposal for long-term rules to prevent and combat child abuse.

The Commission proposal would require interpersonal communication services, such as webmail messaging services and internet telephony, as well as others, to proactively detect online CSAM materials and activities involving child grooming. However, this poses many concerns regarding privacy, security and law enforcement investigations. The proposal also provides for the establishment of an EU centre to support the implementation and supervision of the new rules.

In the Parliament, the file has been assigned to the Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs (LIBE). The draft report was submitted on 19 April 2023. The over 1 900 amendments tabled in committee were published on 30 May 2023.


Proposal for a regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council laying down rules to prevent and combat child sexual abuse
Committee responsible:Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs (LIBE)COM(2022) 209
Rapporteur:Javier Zarzalejos (EPP, Spain)2022/0155(COD)
Shadow rapporteurs:Paul Tang (S&D, the Netherlands)
Hilde Vautmans (Renew, Belgium)
Patrick Breyer (Greens/EFA, Germany)
Annalisa Tardino (ID, Italy)
Vicenzo Sofo (ECR, Italy)
Cornelia Ernst (The Left, Germany)
Ordinary legislative procedure (COD)
(Parliament and Council on equal footing
– formerly ‘co-decision’)
Next steps expected: Committee vote

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