Sprache ändern: English

Full chat control proposal leaked: attack on digital privacy of correspondence and secure encryption

European Parliament Freedom, democracy and transparency Press releases

The French news service contexte.com has today published the latest Belgian Presidency’s proposal for introducing indiscriminate chat control scanning of private messages for illegal content. The proposal covers the entire regulation and is therefore ready for endorsement. The proposal is to be discussed tomorrow in a Council law enforcement working party. The political points of contention will then be decided in COREPER in order to adopt the position by June.

The leaked proposal shows that the core of the EU Commission’s extreme initial proposal is to be retained unchanged, warns MEP and most prominent opponent of chat control Patrick Breyer (Pirate Party):

“As the Council’s legal service has confirmed, the latest move does not change the nature of detection orders. Millions of private chats and private photos of law-abiding citizens are to be searched and leaked using flawed technology, without them being even remotely connected to child sexual abuse – this destroys our digital privacy of correspondence. Despite lip service being paid to encryption, client-side scanning is to be used to undermine previously secure end-to-end encryption in order to turn our smartphones into spies – this destroys secure encryption.

Now is the time to take to the barricades in favour of privacy and secure encryption, because EU governments that have been critical so far are praising the repackaged plans, which means that the blocking minority no longer stands. Not even a written opinion of the Council’s legal service on this obvious violation of fundamental rights has been requested, it seems.

If the EU governments actually go into trilogue negotiations with this radical position, experience shows that the Parliament risks gradually abandoning its initial position behind closed doors and agreeing to bad and dangerous compromises that fundamentally put our online security at risk.”

In detail Breyer criticises the proposed text as follows: „Limiting bulk chat searches to ‘high-risk services’ is meaningless because every communication service is misused also for sharing illegal images and therefore has an imminently high risk of abuse. Ireland – one of the strongest proponents of chat control – would be classifying the major services. In any case, the service used is no justification for searching the private chats of millions of citizens who are not even remotely connected to any wrongdoing.

Informing law enforcement only of repeat hits is also meaningless, as falsely flagged beach pictures or consensual sexting rarely involve just a single photo. The EU Commissioner for Home Affairs has herself herself stated that three out of four of the disclosed chats and photos are not actionable for the police. These algorithms and hash databases are totally unreliable in distinguishing legal from illegal content.”

Breyer’s information portal and document archive on the proposal: chatcontrol.eu