To fight sexual abuse and exploitation of children, European Union member states must work more closely with each other and with Europol and the IT industry, according to the European Parliament.

MEPs on December 14 approved a non-legislative resolution assessing the implementation of the 2011 EU directive on combating sexual abuse of children. Drafted by Anna Maria Corazza Bildt (EPP, SE), the resolution was passed by 597 votes to 6, with 20 abstentions.

“Member states must do more, better and faster to ensure zero tolerance against child sexual abuse online and offline,” said Bildt. “The focus should be on removing illegal material at source and blocking when this is not possible, with faster procedures and safeguards.  We also urge the internet industry to take their share of responsibility for working out innovative solutions to protect children.”

According to the text, web pages containing child sexual abuse material must be quickly removed and, when this is not possible, member states should block access to those pages for users within their territory.

The MEPs also agreed that national authorities should cooperate with the IT industry, as well as with third countries and Interpol, to speed up notifying and take-down procedures, in the cases where illegal content is made available from abroad.

According to the resolution, the EU should draw up blacklists of web sites containing child sexual material, to be shared among member states and with Europol and Interpol, and communicated to internet providers.

Adequate financial and human resources, reinforced cross-border information exchange and updated digital investigative techniques are key to protecting children against sexual abuse and exploitation, said the MEPs.

As regards threats and risks to which children are exposed online, particularly recruitment, the MEPs demanded measures to combat new forms of crime online, such as revenge porn and sexual extortion.

MEPs also highlighted the special vulnerability of migrant children to abuse, trafficking and sexual exploitation and called for stronger police and judicial cooperation, and rapid exchange of information, to trace missing children

The resolution urged EU member states to introduce mandatory criminal background checks for persons applying or volunteering for activities or jobs with access to children, and to “systematically exchange information on individuals posing a risk to children”.

The aim is to prevent sex offenders moving unnoticed from one member state to another to work with minors.