Civil society organisations including ARTICLE 19 have written an open letter to European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, raising our serious concerns about the drafting of rules to protect and prevent child abuse and the process’ potential undermining of the rule of law and the independence of the Commission. The organisations, all of which are on working on democracy, transparency and corporate accountability, also highlighted the need to protect civic space.
The concerns have been raised by allegations made by investigative journalists in September and October that the Commission gave AI companies and other stakeholders undue and privileged access to the Directorate General for Migration and Home Affairs (DG HOME) Commissioner and certain staff members responsible for drafting regulations to prevent and combat child sexual abuse. Additional allegations have also been made that DG HOME has engaged in the unlawful and unethical micro-targeting of adverts on social media platforms in relation to this same law.
Our letter regarding the allegations highlights DG HOME’s systematic failure to abide by Commission rules and principles regarding ethics, improved regulation objectives, and the protection of personal data.
It highlights potential conflicts of interest, outlines details about the alleged unlawful micro-targeted online advertising, and insufficient response from DG HOME.
The letter also reminds the Commissioner of the role civil society plays as watchdogs for human rights and social justice, a role that is well- established in the EU Treaties and international human rights instruments.
The organisations welcomed the European Commission’s commitment to tackle disinformation, exploitation and manipulation online, to combat illegal activities, and to fight against global threats to democracy.