The chatcontrol regulation waives the European privacy directive to combat online child pornography content, but has raised several criticisms from activists
Digital communications platforms will be able to to check our chats for three years looking for online child sexual abuse. On Tuesday, the European Parliament passed a controversial law that will allow digital companies to detect and report such content on their apps, in derogation of the European directive on privacy.
The regulation called chat control allows electronic communications providers such as Whatsapp or Messenger to scan messages for child pornography content and was necessary to combat online child abuse. In fact, the Privacy Directive prohibits the surveillance, interception or storage of electronic communications, unless the user’s consent or specific legal authorization is given.
537 deputies voted in favor of the bill, with 133 against and 24 abstentions. Despite the result, European lawmakers have warned however that the rules are “Legally flawed” and could crumble before a court. MEPs also criticized the pressure they were under to pass the bill quickly, calling it a “moral blackmail “.
The bill pitted the European Commission, who proposed it, and children’s rights activists against the European Parliament and privacy regulators, who fear the bill could undermine EU privacy rules.
Tomorrow we will vote on a European regulation which, by derogating from the ePrivacy Directive, will legally allow all communication service providers to scan all our private messages. A thread 👇 https://t.co/ERRXTASB9D
— Matteo Navacci (@mrk4m1) July 5, 2021
He writes Matteo Navacci, privacy expert and co-founder of the Privacy Network, that the approval of this law means, for example “That the photographs e intimate videos dthe millions of people they may be acquired, stored and examined by service providers and their employees “.
For the moment, the Regulation provides that it is the platforms to choose whether or not to monitor their apps, but it seems that companies are well prepared to do so. These new rules should only apply for three years, but privacy activists are also concerned about the permanent ones that will come later.
The limit for now is end-to-end encryption (E2EE), a technique that protects communications from any interference. In fact, the Commission would like to limit the security of this type of communication as well, such as those on WhatsApp and Telegram.
“Encrypted communications and services must be preserved and protected”, said Diego Naranjo, head of policy at the European Digital Rights (Edri) association, in an interview. Naranjo said the Commission’s plan will create an incentive for Big Tech to either violate or not develop encryption and will induce companies to sift through private communications.
There are also reservations about the regulation just approved, by the same parliamentarians. Alde’s Dutch MP Sophie in ‘t Veld warned that the legislation would not stand up to court scrutiny given Europe’s strict privacy laws. “I think we both know the result on the table is legally wrong,” he told Home Affairs Commissioner Ylva Johansson on Monday. Politico reports that the parliamentarians expressed their hope in “a proposal greatly improved“With greater guarantees of data protection.