Musat & Asociatii participated last week at the reunion of the Advisory Group of the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre (CEOP), hosted by Microsoft Romania. The event brought together representatives of government institutions (Police, the Public Ministry, SECI – Southeast European Cooperation Initiative) and nongovernmental officials, focused on fighting the phenomenon of child exploitation on the Internet.

Horatiu Dumitru, Managing Associate with Musat & Associatii, presented key facts on local legislation and its development over the last decade regarding child exploitation in the online environment and highlighted numerous legal aspects either missing from the current regulation or not yet offering appropriate regulatory solutions. “A serious and widespread public debate regarding the freedom of expression on the Internet is required, to discuss and clarify the limits of this freedom, instructive and legal methods to protect minors in the online environment, data protection and privacy of children during their interactions on the Internet, as well as the self-regulatory schemes that could be employed by the service providers. This kind of debate could contribute to the enlargement of the public authorities’ options, to the elimination of erroneous patterns of thought and action regarding the use of the Internet and to battle against the criminal phenomenon”, said Horatiu Dumitru, who represented Musat & Asociatii at this event. The firm provides constant pro bono legal assistance for The Romanian Center for Missing & Sexually Exploited Children (FOCUS), based on a partnership agreement signed in 2008.

The presentation was appreciated by CEOP’s representatives, who emphasized the necessity to cover the legal gaps in this area – quite similar to those existing in The United Kingdom. They also underlined the role that may be assumed by the courts, especially criminal courts, in this intercession, highlighting the current limitations in the sphere of substantive and procedural law regarding the protection of minors from the online hazards.

The Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre (CEOP) is an UK governmental department subordinated to the Serious Organised Crime Agency (SOCA), active in criminal investigations against child sexual abuse. The partnership between CEOP and the Romanian public and private sectors is aimed at improving the national legislation applicable to online child pornography and the secondary legislation, addressed mainly to child protection. The nongovernmental compound of CEOP includes FOCUS, UNICEF Romania, and other companies such as Microsoft and Visa which, by the nature of their core activity, support and advocate for diminishing the internet child abuse.

Musat & Asociatii supports, by means of pro bono legal services or sponsorships, humanitarian associations and foundations. In the last years, the firm provided pro bono legal advice for Romanian Center for Missing & Sexually Exploited Children (FOCUS) regarding the local implementation of the Council of Europe Convention of July 12th 2007 on the Protection of Children against Abuse and Sexual Exploitation. Also, Musat & Asociatii is involved in supporting the Foundation for the Relief of Disabled Orphans (F.R.O.D.O.), which mobilize UK or US medical teams coming regularly in Romania to perform pro bono surgeries for children with orthopedic problems.

Horatiu Dumitru, Managing Associate, is recognized for being involved in the regulation of various controversial aspects concerning online freedom of expression, private data protection and e-commerce. For more than eight years, he has been authoring the e-Legal Focus column of e-Finance magazine, writing about hot topics extending in the field of the intellectual property on the Internet, data protection in the online environment and other matters regarding online gambling, data retention or open-source licences. In recognition of his activity and merits, Horatiu Dumitru was distinguished by e-Finance Magazine with the Excellency diploma for legal e-journalism.

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