EU, US sign agreement to combat online child abuse

Copenhagen (ANTARA News/Xinhua-OANA) - The U.S. and European Union (EU) have reached a framework agreement to combat online child abuse and pornography, EU and U.S. high officials for justice and home affairs said here on Thursday.

The Global Alliance Against Child Sexual Abuse Online strengthens EU-U.S. cooperation on fighting cyber crime while protecting the rights and privacy of children.

It sets out a number of criteria to help countries in their efforts in identifying and protecting victims of child pornography, and in investigating cases of online child abuse.

"The internet knows no boundaries, and neither should we in handling this," said Danish Justice Minister Morten Boedskov, referring to the problem of online child abuse.

His comments came at a news conference following a EU-U.S. ministerial meeting on justice and home affairs, held in Copenhagen on Thursday.

The framework against online child abuse is part of a broader, ongoing negotiation for an EU-U.S. data privacy and protection agreement, which is expected to facilitate exchange of data needed to fight crime and terrorism.

U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder Jr., who is helping negotiate the agreement, said the issues under consideration were "national problems (that) demand international solutions."

In particular, the framework against child abuse online is expected to strengthen EU-U.S. police and intelligence cooperation to help uncover child pornography rings.

Although the framework is only applicable for the U.S. and EU countries for now, there are plans to involve other countries in the agreement as well, Boedskov said.

While the framework has been negotiated by the Danish EU Presidency, which runs till end June, it will be the Cyprus EU Presidency, running July to December, that would conclude the final agreement.

Thursday`s ministerial meeting also discussed how to strengthen EU-U.S. efforts to counter the threats posed by lone terrorist, by terror groups, and by ordinary citizens traveling overseas to receive training at terrorist camps.

Common EU-U.S. interests such as mutual legal assistance, data protection and migratory policies, were also on the agenda. Negotiations on the joint EU-U.S. agreement on privacy and protection began in March 2011, and a review of the progress made will take place in 2013, the justice officials said. (*)