The EU will allow platforms to control chat rooms to prevent sexual abuse of minors

The EU will allow platforms to control chat rooms to prevent sexual abuse of minors

The chatcontrol regulation waives the European privacy directive to combat online child pornography content, but has raised several criticisms from activists

(photo: Unsplash) Digital communications platforms will be able to control our chats for three years looking for online sexual abuse of minors. 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 privacy directive.

The regulation called chatcontrol allows providers to electronic communications such as Whatsapp or Messenger to scan messages for child pornography content and it was necessary to combat online child abuse. Indeed, the Privacy Directive prohibits the surveillance, interception or storage of electronic communications, unless the user gives consent or a specific legal authorization.

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 "moral blackmail".

The bill pitted the European Commission, which proposed it, and activists for children's rights against the European Parliament and privacy regulators, who fear that the bill could undermine EU privacy rules.

Tomorrow a European regulation will be voted on derogating from the ePrivacy Directive will legally allow all communications service providers to scan all of our private messages. One thread 👇

- Matteo Navacci (@ mrk4m1) July 5, 2021

Matteo Navacci, privacy expert and co-founder of the Privacy Network, writes that the approval of this law means, for example, "that the intimate photos and videos of millions of people will be able to be acquired, stored and examined by service providers and their employees."

For the moment, the Regulation requires platforms to choose whether or not to monitor their apps, but it seems that companies are well prepared to do so. These new rules are only expected to 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 European Digital Rights Association (Edri), in an interview. Naranjo said the Commission's plan will create an incentive for Big Tech to crack or not develop cryptography and cause companies to scour private communications. of the same parliamentarians. Alde's Dutch MP Sophie in 't Veld warned that the legislation would not stand up to court scrutiny given strict European privacy laws. "I think we both know the result on the table is legally wrong," she told Home Affairs Commissioner Ylva Johansson on Monday. Politico reports that parliamentarians have expressed their hope in “a significantly improved proposal” with greater guarantees of data protection.

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