New 'Opt-In' Version of Chat Control Mass Surveillance Bill Is Making Way Through the EU Council

"The highly controversial indiscriminate child sexual abuse regulation (so-called chat control) could still be endorsed by EU governments after all, as France could give up its previous veto," reports Patrick Breyer of The Pirate Party.

New 'Opt-In' Version of Chat Control Mass Surveillance Bill Is Making Way Through the EU Council
  • According to the proposal, users of applications with a communication function would need to agree, either through terms and conditions or pop-up messages, that all images and videos they send will be automatically scanned and potentially reported to the EU and the police.
  • To enable this, monitoring backdoors would be integrated into previously secure, end-to-end encrypted messaging services. The scanning algorithms would make use of 'artificial intelligence' to identify known Child Sexual Abuse Materials and new images and videos deemed suspicious.
If a user does not consent to the scanning of their private photos and videos, they could still use the service for sending text messages but would lose the ability to share images and videos.
  • The scanning of text messages and audio communications has been removed from the draft legislation. Communications involving employees of security authorities and the military would also be exempt in this version of chat control.
"During the last discussion on 24 May, the Council Legal Service made it clear that indiscriminate chat control scanning of non-suspects is still envisioned and remains a violation of fundamental rights. Nevertheless, most EU governments are determined to go ahead. EU governments plan to continue their discussions on June 4th," writes Breyer in his blog.

Renewed push for European mass surveillance

  • Mullvad recently published a detailed blog post which highlights how the European Commission tried to introduce total surveillance of all EU citizens via Chat Control.
"Under the slogan ‘Think of the children’, the European Commission tried to introduce total surveillance of all EU citizens. When the scandal was revealed, it turned out that American tech companies and security services had been involved in the bill, generally known as ‘Chat Control’ – and that the whole thing had been directed by completely different interests. Now comes the next attempt. New battering rams have been brought out with the ‘Going Dark’ initiative. But the ambition is the same: to install state spyware on every European cell phone and computer," was stated in the post.
  • In a renewed push for mass surveillance of Europeans, Europol recently published a joint declaration with European police chiefs. They called on industry and governments to take action against the implementation of end-to-end encryption, arguing that this technology hinders law enforcement from obtaining and using evidence against criminals.
"Our homes are becoming more dangerous than our streets as crime is moving online. To keep our society and people safe, we need this digital environment to be secured. Tech companies have a social responsibility to develop a safer environment where law enforcement and justice can do their work. If police lose the ability to collect evidence, our society will not be able to protect people from becoming victims of crime," stated Europol’s Executive Director Catherine De Bolle.

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