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Germany insists in major revision of the EU Chat Control proposal to protect fundamental rights

European Parliament Freedom, democracy and transparency Press releases

Germany will not support the EU Commission’s „Chat Control“ proposal of a regulation on Child Sexual Abuse unless major changes are implemented, a leaked position paper reveals:

1) The country opposes „client-side scanning“ on personal devices and wants to exclude end-to-end encrypted messages from scanning. Audio communications and phone calls would also be exempted from scanning.

2) As for server-side mass scanning of private communications and cloud storage, the government „reserve[s] the right to make additional requests at a later date“, questioning the „permissibility“ of such scans in view of fundamental rights. Indeed the European Parliament’s Research Service found only last week that the globally unprecedented scanning orders proposed by the EU Commission would stand in Court only if they were targeted and „specific with regards to the group of individuals to be monitored“.

3) The German government also insists that no voluntary mass scanning by providers in the absence of an order should take place, as currently practised by various US services such as Facebook/Instagram Messenger, Gmail, outlook.com.

4) The proposed age verification requirements for communications services „must allow for anonymous or at least pseudonymous use of the services in question“. It is feared that these requirements could effectively mean the end of anonymous e-mail or messenger accounts, which can be essential for whistleblowers.

Pirate Party MEP Patrick Breyer, shadow rapporteur (negotiator) for his group in the Civil Liberties Committee (LIBE) and long-time opponent of mass scanning of private communications, comments:

„The EU Commission’s globally unprecedented proposal of indiscriminately searching the content of any private correspondence and photos is increasingly falling apart. A Chinese-style mass surveillance scheme as extreme as this doesn’t exist anywhere else in the free world for a reason: It would inflict a death blow to the security and secrecy of communications as well as the right to communicate anonymously, which protect children, victims, whistleblowers, dissidents, industry, governments and many more.

What we really need instead of untargeted chat control and identification obligations for age verification is obliging law enforcement agencies to have known exploitation material removed from the internet, as well as Europe-wide standards for effective prevention measures, victim support and counselling, and for effective criminal investigations.”