Interim Regulation would permit continued active searching for illicit material
Today, Match Group expressed its support for the European Commission’s (EC) Child Sexual Abuse Material (CSAM) Interim Regulation to the European Electronic Communications Code. The Interim Regulation would help make clear that increased privacy protections set to become effective on December 21, 2020 do not outlaw the best measures to defend against the proliferation of Child Sexual Abuse Material (CSAM) and child exploitation online. Match Group applauds the EC’s efforts to tackle CSAM and supports the institutions that will strengthen the fight against child abuse–but we also want to do more.
“Match Group unreservedly condemns CSAM and has a zero-tolerance approach to it on all of its apps,” said Mark Buse, Senior Vice President for Government Relations and Policy. “However, our ability to detect and take action against CSAM and child predators would be complicated by expected changes to the privacy laws in the EU. We support an exception to the new law to continue to carry out this important work.”
To enforce our anti-exploitation policies, Match Group’s apps deploy a combination of automated and human detection systems to proactively search for, remove, and report CSAM. In addition, our products are strictly for adults 18+ and we screen for and remove minors from our platforms. We annually invest millions of euros worldwide on a holistic safety program that emphasizes prevention of harm.
However, all that could soon change for the worse. As of December 21, 2020, the European Union (EU) will extend the scope of the ePrivacy Directive to certain online messaging services, potentially including those used on Match Group’s dating apps. This change could mean that our sweeps for CSAM would be prohibited in Europe. While we support the EU’s attempts to protect privacy, we recognize that bad actors could hide behind these added protections and harm children with newfound impunity. Without the exception, the law may seriously degrade our effectiveness in combating this harmful material and protecting the most vulnerable.
Match Group welcomes and fully supports the EC’s legislative efforts in fighting child exploitation. The EC’s Interim Regulation would provide a specific, limited exemption from the law to allow online services to continue scans for CSAM and attempts to exploit minors and is a great start. In our efforts to do more on this issue, however, we hope that the Interim Regulation will be further tailored to enable companies like Match Group to not only detect, but also prevent any kind of child exploitation, including grooming. We stand ready to work with the EC on this and other efforts to make the internet safer.