Half a pat on the back

Thanks to tremendous lobbying and campaigning work by children’s organizations from across the world we have won the first part of what we wanted to achieve.

LIBE says “yes”

MEPs were tremendously impressed by the breadth and scale of support there was for the positions we took up on the Commission’s proposed derogation. It strengthened the hands of our friends in the European Parliament and hugely weakened our opponents.

The LIBE Committee today voted to put forward a report to the plenary meeting of the European Parliament next week. That means it should be possible for the Trialogue to meet and decide the matter in time to beat the 20th December deadline.

Here is the press release of the Child Rights Intergroup welcoming the decision.

But we can only give ourselves half a pat. There is more still to be done.

I say this because from the press release issued by the Parliament and from other reports, there are bits of what the Committee appear to have agreed which could still derail us.

No interruption or suspension of the tools

Conditions or riders have been attached to the continued use of the tools. If that means the tools are suspended for any period of time these conditions or riders must be resisted.

The conditions and riders are about transparency, accountability and reporting. These are things children’s groups should be very strongly in favour of but, at this late stage, to say they must be sorted out as a condition of continuing to use the tools seems utterly wrong.

So my suggestion is, over the next few days and into next week, we continue to lobby MEPs and national Governments – particularly the German Government – saying something along these lines:

  1. It is vital the Trialogue completes its work ahead of the 20th December deadline.
  2. We are concerned, however, that, even if the Trialogue does complete its work in time, if the LIBE decision is followed in total the use of the tools may be made conditional on terms that almost certainly cannot be met within such a short timescale.
  3. We have no problem or objection to stipulations about accountability, transparency or reporting mechanisms attaching to the continued use of the tools by companies. On the contrary we welcome them, but the only reasonable course of action is to allow these matters to be resolved during the period of grace which the derogation will establish or as part of the longer term strategy if that is adopted during the period of grace.

We can then turn our attention to what happens during the period grace and, above all, we can start to focus on working out what a long term policy will look like.

Here is NCMEC’s statement which also discusses that point.

About John Carr

John Carr is one of the world's leading authorities on children's and young people's use of digital technologies. He is Senior Technical Adviser to Bangkok-based global NGO ECPAT International, Technical Adviser to the European NGO Alliance for Child Safety Online, which is administered by Save the Children Italy and an Advisory Council Member of Beyond Borders (Canada). Amongst other things John is or has been an Adviser to the United Nations, ITU, the European Union, the Council of Europe and European Union Agency for Network and Information Security and is a former Executive Board Member of the UK Council for Child Internet Safety. He is Secretary of the UK's Children's Charities' Coalition on Internet Safety. John has advised many of the world's largest internet companies on online child safety. In June, 2012, John was appointed a Visiting Senior Fellow at the London School of Economics and Political Science. This was renewed in 2018. More: http://johncarrcv.blogspot.com
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