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Chat control: EU Ombudsman launches investigation into Europol

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Following a complaint by Patrick Breyer, Pirate Party MEP, the EU Ombudsman Emily O’Reilly has announced that she has opened an investigation into the transfer of two former Europol officials to the chat control surveillance tech provider Thorn. Despite the obvious conflict of interest, the transfer of the officials, who had already been involved in child sexual abuse at Europol, was authorised by the authority. One of the officials was involved in a pilot project at Europol for the AI-based analysis of abuse reports, is now registered with the Bundestag as a lobbyist for Thorn and travelled to a Europol meeting with his former colleagues in his new role. O’Reilly is asking Europol to provide access to all documents relating to the transfer and its approval by 15 January.

Breyer welcomes the move: “Since the revelation of Chatcontrol Gate, we know that the CSAR proposal is ultimately a product of the lobby of an international surveillance-government-industrial complex. We will hold EU Commissioner for Home Affairs Johansson and Europol accountable for this betrayal of our digital civil liberties to ensure it will never happen again.”

Background: The EU Commission proposes to oblige providers to search all private chats, messages, and emails automatically for suspicious content – generally and indiscriminately. The stated aim of this chat control: To prosecute child sexual exploitation material (CSEM). The result: Mass surveillance by means of fully automated real-time surveillance of messaging and chats and the end of privacy of digital correspondence.