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UN experts: EU must close the legal gap to protect children from sexual abuse online

The UN experts urge swift action by the European Union to reach agreement on temporary legislation to allow for the continued use of technological tools to tackle online child sexual abuse.

Mama Fatima Singhateh, the Special Rapporteur on sale and sexual exploitation of children, expressed her concern regarding the lack of legislation within the EU, that allows for the technology companies to detect and report child sexual abuse online.

This coupled with the dramatic decrease in the number of EU-related reports on child sexual abuse online. These reports, prepared by tech companies, have become key elements in law enforcement agency investigations, helping identify, locate and rescue victims, as well as bringing perpetrators to justice.

The experts said the data on reduced reporting is especially worrying given evidence of increased risk to children during the COVID-19 pandemic. Europol has warned of increased activity relating to child sexual abuse and exploitation on both the surface web and dark web. A law enforcement survey released last month by tech company NetClean confirmed that the pandemic has led to a global increase in online child sexual abuse crime.