Ashton Kutcher has an important message for legislators in the European Union where a new law will come into effect in December that’ll severely impact the fight against online child sexual abuse.
The law is aimed at protecting individual privacy. But at the same time, it’ll make it illegal for tech companies to report any grooming and exploitation they detect online.
The Hollywood star who’s also the co-founder of anti child-trafficking organisation Thorn, posted a passionate plea on his social media pages sharing his concerns about the incoming ePrivacy Directive regulation:
“I want to ask a simple question to the EU legislators right now. If it was your kid that was being sexually abused and it was their content that was being shared on the internet and you knew that tech companies had the ability to identify and remove that content or even prevent abuse from happening but a law was standing in the way from providing your kid with a better life, would you be ok with that? If it was your kid?” he asks.
“Because come December, if you don’t act that’s going to be the reality for parents in the world. Parents that you represent. Think about it. There’s a way to craft this that protects people’s privacy including those children and protect the liberty of those parents and their ability to protect their own children.”
And the European Commission agrees – there is a way to craft the laws so kids can still be protected.
They’re tabling amendments to the articles, calling for two specific sections of the directive to be suspended. One relates to making watermarks on videos and pictures private and the other relates to the voluntary detection of online grooming.
In fact, Ashton recently held a meeting with the President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen who’s on the same page with the issue:
Happy to talk to Ashton Kutcher.
We have a common cause: protecting children.
The @EU_Commission is working with online platforms to report & remove child sexual abuse content.
— Ursula von der Leyen (@vonderleyen) November 13, 2020
And while it all seems like common sense that protecting our children from online sexual exploitation is a priority, there is some resistance to the amendments from experts who say the law could be misused and violate the privacy rights of individuals.
“I’m a privacy advocate,” Ashton says in a second video.
“I’ve lived in the public for the lion’s share of my life. Trust me, I appreciate privacy. But these kids who are being abused, who are being sexually abused and whose content is being spread around the internet – they deserve privacy too.”
According to Thorn, whose other co-founder is Demi Moore, it’s estimated that online child sexual abuse material has increased 15,000% over the last 15 years, thanks to the internet.
And according to a 2017 report by the Internet Watch Foundation, 60% of the content can be traced to Europe, taking over North America as the biggest host of child sexual abuse imagery.
Learn more about the important work Thorn is doing HERE.
And watch Ashton’s plea to legislators below:
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(Feature Image Credit: Everett Collection/ Shutterstock.com)