HomeInsightsDetection of child sexual abuse online: EU Parliament and Council reach provisional agreement on ePrivacy Directive derogation

As previously reported by Wiggin, on 30 November 2023, the European Commission proposed a new regulation to extend the term of existing Regulation (EU) 2021/1232 (“Interim Regulation”) that permits a derogation from the rules under Article 5(1) of the ePrivacy Directive (2002/58/EC), which relate to the confidentiality of electronic communications and related traffic data. The purpose of the derogation is to allow certain communication service providers to voluntarily use technologies to detect and report online child sexual abuse material and conduct without being in breach of the confidentiality provisions under the ePrivacy Directive. This temporary solution will eventually be replaced by new rules under the Commission’s proposed Regulation to prevent and combat child sexual abuse, currently moving through the legislative process. Until those rules come into force, it is necessary to extend the term of the Interim Regulation if these detection activities are to be allowed to continue.

Both the European Parliament and Council reached their positions on the new Regulation in January. According to reports, on 15 February 2024 they reached a provisional agreement on the text of the new Regulation. That text is not yet available, but the reports suggest that the co-legislators have agreed to extend the Interim Regulation to 3 April 2026 and to a detailed template to be used by service providers in future when complying with the annual reporting obligations under the Interim Regulation.

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