- The EU Commission is drafting permanent legislation on the automatic searching of all online activities, including personal electronic mail and messages of each citizen, for suspicious content in the search for child pornography. Suspected cases would be notified to the police. An online consultation is underway until 15 April. It includes questions on whether private communications should be covered and whether backdoors to end-to-end encrypted communications services should be required to enable this monitoring.
- Such privatised mass surveillance is unprecedented in western democracies and would have unacceptable consequences for our freedom of communications and expression. According to police reports, in the vast majority of cases, innocent citizens come under suspicion of having committed an offence due to unreliable processes.
- Therefore, please participate in the ongoing consultation. The responses will be taken into account by the Commission when deciding on the content of the planned legislation. So far, almost only child protection organizations and industry stakeholders have participated.
- The public consultation on chat control legislation is open until 15 April: https://ec.europa.eu/info/law/better-regulation/have-your-say/initiatives/12726-Child-sexual-abuse-online-detection-removal-and-reporting-/public-consultation
To participate, you need to create an account.
You do not need to answer all the questions in the survey.
Most important to answer are the questions 1-7 in section „b. Legislative solution: what should it include to tackle the above gaps effectively?“
Regarding questions 1-2, we do not think any legislation is needed to compel or allow for generally monitoring digital services for allegedly illegal content.
Regarding question 3, obliging non-EU service providers would create a dangerous precedent and risk that third countries (e.g. Russia, China) start imposing monitoring requirements on EU-based services.
Regarding question 4, we do not think that generally monitoring digital services to „detect and remove“ allegedly illegal content is proportionate. When looking for previously classified („known“) content, the classification is so unreliable that mostly innocent users are being reported to the police. When looking for unclassified („unknown“) material, child grooming or illegal live streams, the use of error-prone machine learning results in the disclosure and reporting of legal activities and communications.
As for reporting users to the police, service providers are usually unable to reliably identify criminally relevant content. And they tend to systematically over-report.
Regarding questions 5-6, searching encrypted communications would require adding backdoors to encryption technology and thus weaken the security of communications in general, which many citizens, businesses and governments rely on. Such a backdoor could be exploited for other purposes and would create a precedent to call for interception backdoors.
Regarding question 7, we disagree with all options for generally monitoring digital services in search of allegedly illegal content.
When answering other questions, even where the wording appears unproblematic, keep in mind that the Commission will use the answers to justify their announced legislation on generally monitoring the Internet.
More information on messaging and chat control: chatcontrol.eu