The European Union is close to passing new rules that would force the mass scanning of digital messages, including encrypted messages. On Thursday, the governments of the European Union You will take a stand On the Proposed legislation, which aims to detect child sexual abuse material (CSAM). The vote will determine whether the proposal has enough support to move forward in the EU law-making process.

the law, It was first introduced in 2022It will implement an “upload moderation” system that checks all your digital messages, including photos, videos, and shared links. Each service required to install “vetted” monitoring technology must also request permission to inspect your messages. If you don’t agree, you won’t be able to share images or URLs.

As if that doesn’t sound wild enough, the proposed legislation appears to both endorse and reject end-to-end encryption. First, the report highlights how end-to-end encryption is “a necessary means of protecting fundamental rights” but then goes on to say that encrypted messaging services could “unintentionally become safe zones where child sexual abuse material can be shared or disseminated.”

The proposed solution is to leave messages wide open for scanning – but somehow without compromising the layer of privacy provided by end-to-end encryption. He points out that the new moderation system can achieve this by examining the contents of your messages before Apps like Signal, WhatsApp, and Messenger encrypt it.

In response, says Signal CEO Meredith Whitaker The application will stop working In the European Union if the rules become law, because the proposal “fundamentally undermines encryption,” regardless of whether it is checked before encryption or not. “We can call it a back door, a front door, or ‘load supervision.’” Whittaker writes. “But whatever we call it, each of these approaches creates a vulnerability that can be exploited by hackers and hostile nation-states, removing unbreakable math protection and putting in its place a high-value vulnerability.”

Many organizations, incl Electronic Frontier Foundationthe The Center for Democracy and Technology, and Mozilla, have them too They signed a joint statement EU urged to reject proposals that screen user content.

Privacy advocates aren’t the only ones sounding alarm bells about this proposal. this week, Dozens of members of Parliament They wrote to the Council of the European Union to express their opposition to the proposal. Patrick Breyer, a German member of the European Parliament, also spoke about the draft law. saying “Random searches and error-prone leaks of private conversations and intimate photos are destroying our fundamental right to private correspondence.”

“Children and victims of abuse deserve measures that truly work and will stand up in court, not just empty promises.”

According to BreyerRenewed discussions about the chat control law did not appear out of nowhere. He says proponents of chat control are now stepping in to take advantage of the post-European election period “during which public interest is declining and the new European Parliament has not yet been formed”.

In a statement to the edgeBreyer also points out that the Belgian presidency expires later this month, and the country’s current interior minister has been at the forefront of the chat monitoring bill. “Last year’s proponents failed to secure a majority,” says Breyer. “This may be their last chance.”

If the legislation gains support, negotiations will begin between the EU Parliament, the Council and the Commission to form the final text of the law. But even with support from EU governments, proponents of chat control may still have difficulty pushing the idea forward. last year, A survey conducted by the European Digital Rights Group (EDRI). He pointed out that 66% of young people in the European Union do not agree with policies that allow Internet service providers to screen their messages.

“Many lawmakers recognize that fundamental rights prohibit mass surveillance, but they do not want to be seen as opposing a scheme framed as combating child sexual abuse,” Breyer says. “My message is that children and victims of abuse deserve measures that are truly effective and will hold up in court, not just empty promises, technical solutions and hidden agendas.”

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