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A European pro-privacy regulation forces social networks to deactivate their systems for detecting child abuse online

Facebook today announced the disabling your child abuse detection tools... but only for users who reside within the EU.

The reason? The entry into force of the European Code of Electronic Communications, the same community regulation that recently forced Google to request permission from its users to continue offering smart functions in Gmail and other company services.

And is that the same rules that protect our privacy also prevent, as an unwanted effect, have their automated systems analyze minors' conversations on Facebook Messenger and Instagram to detect these cases of abuse.

According to statements collected by the BBC from John Carr of the Children's Charities' Coalition on Internet Safety:

"We are heading into a very strange world if privacy laws can be used to make it easier for pedophiles to contact children, or for people to circulate or store photos of children who are being raped."

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Already last October the Council of the European Union claimed to be aware of the problemSince the regulations had been applied without considering justified exceptions to it.

Even media characters such as actor Ashton Kutchner (founder of the NGO Thorn, focused on this problem) have been implicated, requesting the European authorities to allow large technology companies to continue making use of their technology anti-abuse because

"Children's privacy matters too: if an interim solution is not legislated, the clues [de los abusos] they will disappear. "

These two months of margin have not been enough, in any case, to approve a reform of the regulations before it began to be applied, so Facebook has been forced to make the decision to deactivate its systems, due to the impossibility of having legal support to keep them running.

As calculated by the U.S. National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, which acts as a global repository for online child abuse documentation, 250,000 alerts are detected per month in the EU, most of which come from Facebook.

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So, until the European Commission changes the regulations (which claims to plan to do so throughout 2021), much of those 250,000 cases annually will go unnoticed by Internet service providers.

Facebook remembers, in any case, that obstacles to abusers remain on their platforms- Any inappropriate message can be reported for investigation, and there are other measures such as restrictions on adults sending messages to children they do not yet know.

Microsoft will keep its abuse detection systems active

On the other hand, Microsoft has stated that for the time being it will choose to keep its systems active child safety despite the legal risk generated by the ambiguity of European regulations.

In a joint statement with Google and other companies, in which it stated that they trust politicians resolve "soon" the lack of a "harmonized regulatory approach", also assert the following.

"We believe the only responsible approach is to remain steadfast in meeting our security commitments."