Step up efforts to combat child abuse online, MEPs say

The European Union needs to seriously step up its effort to tackle online child sexual abuse, by providing enforcement authorities with stronger tools and more resources, Timothy Kirkhope MEP, European Conservatives and Reformists Group home affairs spokesman, said today as the European Parliament adopted a call for increased effort.

The parliament's resolution calls for Internet Service Providers to be more responsive to requests to remove and report illicit content, and it asks for more resources to be provided to Europol and national law enforcement authorities to be able to deal both with the volume of abusive images and to prosecute the offenders. Those pedalling abuse images are growing increasingly sophisticated in their use of encryption and by hosting servers on the 'Dark Net', making it difficult for law enforcement authorities to keep up with technology.

 MEPs also criticised around the EU countries that have failed to fully implement existing EU law from 2011 aimed at tackling sexual abuse.

Speaking after the resolution was adopted, Timothy Kirkhope said:

"Online child abuse is one of the most disgusting crimes that is growing more sophisticated by the week. We need to ensure that we take every action possible to remove abusive images and prosecute those who create or download them. However, the resources are not there, with Europol telling us that thousands of images are not being fully investigated because of a lack of resources.

"We need to make sure we are providing law enforcement authorities and Europol with the tools and resources they need to stamp this out. This means developing more sophisticated ways of detecting sharing sites, and working with internet providers to make sure that images are removed swiftly and offenders traced and prosecuted.

"More than 80 percent of victims of online child abuse are under 10 years old. The parliament has today sent a united signal that it will help in any way we can to help keep law enforcement authorities one step ahead of this disgusting criminal trade."