A key body of EU lawmakers remains dead-set on a controversial legislative proposal that could force millions of messaging app users to agree to having their photo and video uploads scanned by artificial intelligence to detect child sexual abuse material (CSAM).

Critics of the plan — who run the gamut from tech industry messaging giants like WhatsApp to privacy-focused players like Signal and Proton; To legal, security and data protection experts; As well as civil society and digital rights groups; And A majority of lawmakers from across the political spectrum in the European Parliament warn that the proposal would break encryption, saying it poses an existential threat to the bloc’s democratic freedoms and basic rights such as privacy.

Opponents also assert that the EU plan would fail to achieve its purported goal of protecting children, suggesting that enforcement of the law would instead be drowned out by Millions of false positives The app users’ daily messages are fed through AI-based flawed CSAM detection systems.

It was expected that a meeting of the ambassadors of the governments of the 27 member states of the bloc, on Thursday, would reach a position on the file to open negotiations with the European Parliament after the Belgian presidency placed the item on the agenda of today’s meeting. However, a spokesperson for Belgium’s Permanent Representative to the EU confirmed to TechCrunch that the clause had been dropped after it became clear that the governments were still too divided to achieve a qualified majority in the negotiating mandate.

The Belgian spokesman said, “We had the intention to reach a mandate during today’s ambassadorial meeting, but it is not yet clear whether we will obtain the required majority.” “In the final hours before the meeting… it was clear that the qualified majority required could not be met today, so we decided to remove this item from the agenda and continue consultation among member states – to continue working on the text.”

This is important because EU law tends to be a tripartite affair, with the Commission proposing legislation and the Parliament and Council discussing (and often amending) draft laws until a final compromise is reached. But the so-called tripartite talks on the weapons of mass destruction examination file cannot begin until the council adopts its position – so if member states remain divided, as they have been for almost two years… Since the Committee submitted the CSAM survey proposalthe file will remain stuck.

Earlier this week Signal CEO Meredith Whitaker launched her attacks on the controversial EU proposal. “[M]Mass scanning of private communications fundamentally undermines encryption. She warned against this, accusing regional lawmakers of attempting a cynical rehash of the client-side survey to try to hide a plan that amounts to mass surveillance of private communications.

Despite loud and growing alarms about the bloc’s apparent pivot to digital surveillance, the European Commission and European Council have continued to push for a framework that would require messaging platforms to get good at scanning citizens’ private messages — including blanket messages. Encrypted (E2EE) platforms like Signal – rather than supporting… More targeted searches and elicitation of E2EE platforms were proposed by MEPs in the European Parliament last year.

Details of last month A Revised CSAM proposal This document, distributed by the Belgians to the governments of member states, appeared through leaks, sparking new panic.

Patrick Breyer, a Pirate Party MEP – who has opposed the Commission’s CSAM wipe plan from the start – says the council’s revised proposal would require users of EU messaging apps to agree to erase all photos and videos they have sent to others – via technology Text sofas as “Modify Upload” – otherwise you will lose the ability to send photos to others. He warned at the time that “the leaked Belgian proposal means that the essence of the radical and unprecedented initial proposal put forward by the European Commission to govern chat will be implemented without change.”

The makers of private messaging apps, including Signal, have also warned that they will leave the European Union rather than be forced to comply with a mass surveillance law.

In a press email today, Breyer welcomed the failure of enough EU ambassadors to agree on a way forward – but warned that this was likely to be merely a moratorium on implementation, writing: “At the moment, the surveillance extremists between the EU governments and the Grand [home affairs commissioner] Ylva Johansson They failed to build a qualified majority. But they won’t give up and can try again in the next few days. When will they finally learn from the EU Parliament that effective, court-proven, majority-controlled child protection needs a new approach?

Also responding to the council’s setback in a statement, Proton founder Andy Yen made a similar point about the need to keep fighting. “We must not rest on our laurels,” he wrote. “Anti-encryption proposals have been defeated before only to be repackaged and brought back into the political arena again and again. It is important that privacy advocates remain vigilant and not fall prey to manipulation and embellishment when the next attack on encryption is launched.”

It certainly seems that any celebration of the continuing divisions in the Council over the file should be tempered with caution as member state governments appear to be a long way from reaching the qualified majority needed to start talks with MEPs – in which they will be able to achieve this. Parliamentarians must be immediately pressured to approve legislation to conduct mass screening of citizens’ devices despite their opposition. “We are very, very close to the qualified majority,” the Belgian spokesperson told TechCrunch. “If one country changes its mind, we will have a qualified majority and have a mandate for the council.”

The spokesman also told us that next week’s final final meeting, the last before the end of his six-month term, already has a full agenda – suggesting talks to try to agree that the council’s mandate will fall to Hungary, which holds the rotating presidency of the council. For a period of six months starting from July 1.

“As far as we are concerned, as a presidency, we will continue to work in the coming days – at expert level – and to see if the member states that are not happy or satisfied with the proposal, we will continue to discuss how we can impose a financial fine on them.” The spokesman added: – Fine-tune it to make it workable for everyone. “And then it will be up to the next presidency to discuss.

“As far as we know, they are keen to continue working on this issue. The committee is also ready for this. “Parliament is waiting for us, so we need that.”

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