Today, a child sexual abuse survivor from Bavaria, supported by the German Society for Civil Liberties (GFF), filed a lawsuit against tech corporation Meta’s practise of scanning direct messages in search of potentially illegal content. Schneider (name changed) wants to be able to exchange confidential direct messages with other abuse victims without having to fear that these exchanges will be classified as “suspicious” and read by Meta’s algorithms.
With his lawsuit, Schneider wants to stop the practice of US digital corporations such as Meta, Google and Microsoft of indiscriminate and error-prone searches of private messages for supposedly suspicious content (so-called voluntary chat control or chat control 1.0) and overturn the corresponding EU regulation from 2021. The background to the lawsuit is a planned successor regulation, with which this message and chat control, which has so far only been practised by US providers, is to become mandatory for all providers of email, messenger and chat services (so-called chat control 2.0 or child sexual abuse regulation, CSAR).
Pirate Party MEP Patrick Breyer, who himself went to court last year against voluntary chat control and is currently negotiating the proposed regulation on mandatory chat control, explains:
“Abuse victims have long criticised that chat control harms them by destroying private spaces for calls for help, exchange, therapy and counselling instead of helping them. But the fact that an abuse victim now feels compelled to take legal action against chat control means: never again will ‘Big Sister’ Commissioner Johansson and the other masterminds of this unprecedented attack on private and secure communication be able to presume to speak for ‘the victims’ of sexual abuse.
“This Big Brother attack on our mobile phones, private messages and photos, planned by the EU Commission and already voluntarily carried out by US tech companies with the help of error-prone algorithms, is a giant step towards a Chinese-style surveillance state. Chat control is like the post office opening and scanning all letters – ineffective and illegal.
“Even the most intimate nude photos and sex chats can suddenly end up with company staff or the police. Those who destroy the digital secrecy of correspondence destroy trust. We all depend on the security and confidentiality of private communication: People in need, victims of abuse, children, the economy and also state authorities.
“Organised child porn rings do not use e-mails or messenger services, but sealed-off self-operated forums. With its plans for chat control, the EU Commission is putting the general security of our private communications and public networks, business secrets and state secrets at risk out of short-term surveillance desires. What we need is deletion instead of snooping – that’s what I’m fighting for as a pirate politically and also in court!”
Today’s lawsuit makes serious accusations against the method of chat control practiced in the US: it does not curb the spread of abusive depictions, overburdens law enforcement and criminalizes young people for sharing consensual photos. Even before that, a representative survey of minors had shown that they reject the chat control scanning that ostensibly serves to protect them.
Swedish EU Internal Affairs Commissioner Ylva Johansson is the mastermind behind the unprecedented EU ChatControl scheme which she named “mandatory detection”.
 Press release on the lawsuit: https://freiheitsrechte.org/en/ueber-die-gff/presse/pressemitteilungen-der-gesellschaft-fur-freiheitsrechte/pr_chatcontrol_facebook
Background information: https://freiheitsrechte.org/en/themen/digitale-grundrechte/chatcontrol_facebook
 Criticism from other abuse victims: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/why-i-dont-support-privacy-invasive-measures-tackle-child-hanff
 Criticism from minors: https://www.patrick-breyer.de/en/chatcontrol-survey-children-dont-want-to-be-protected-by-scanning-or-age-restricting-messenger-and-chat-apps/