Online perils rampage across the EU, free from private conversations’ grip

January 28, 2024
1 min read

TLDR:

  • More than 1,700 websites in the EU may contain unreported child sexual abuse (CSAM) content, according to a study by Surfshark.
  • Poland seems to have the biggest CSAM problem in Europe, followed by France, Germany, Hungary, and Italy.
  • Researchers at Surfshark suggest using innovative tech solutions, like web scraping, as a less invasive way to identify and fight online dangerous material.
  • An experiment conducted by the Communications Regulatory Authority of Lithuania demonstrated how AI-powered tools can effectively identify illegal content and scrap local websites.
  • The EU Parliament recently reached an agreement to remove the Chat Control clause from the proposed EU Child Sexual Abuse Material Scanning Proposal, emphasizing privacy as a fundamental right.

Over 1,700 websites in the EU may contain unreported child sexual abuse (CSAM) content, according to a study conducted by Surfshark. This study also recorded an increase in CSAM reports globally, with EU countries accounting for 3.1 million reports between 2020 and 2022. Poland was found to have the largest CSAM problem in Europe, followed by France, Germany, Hungary, and Italy. Researchers at Surfshark suggest using innovative tech solutions, like web scraping, to identify and fight online dangerous material without infringing on people’s privacy.

In an experiment conducted by the Communications Regulatory Authority of Lithuania, a new AI-powered tool was developed to scrape the web and effectively identify illegal content. The tool analyzed image metadata and detected matches in the police database, passing the images through a machine-learning model to identify pornographic material. This experiment resulted in the identification of 19 local websites violating national or EU laws, leading to eight police reports and two pre-trial investigations. The study highlights the potential of tech innovation to support authorities’ efforts to combat child sexual abuse online.

The EU Parliament recently reached an agreement to remove the Chat Control clause from the proposed EU Child Sexual Abuse Material Scanning Proposal. This decision emphasizes privacy as a fundamental right and aims to safeguard online security and encryption. However, the Chat Control proposal, currently being debated in the EU Parliament, is seen as a potentially detrimental approach to citizens’ security. Proponents of web scraping argue that less invasive tools should be employed to address online dangerous material before considering more invasive measures.

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