Mass Surveillance of Chats: EU Takes Control of the Chats

The European Commission has published a legislative initiative under which it aims to ensure control over chats.

In order to fulfill this requirement, communication providers will be required to check the contents of all private user correspondence to detect pornographic content with minors.

Read about this news in this article.

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What is the EU initiative?

It is alleged that the upcoming law is allegedly aims at combating child pornography. The document provides for the use of an automated program that will scan the correspondence of Europeans and transmit data on potential violators to local special services and the police.

Mass surveillance law

The idea of total surveillance of the correspondence of residents of EU countries arose back in 2020 – even then European officials began to probe the ground regarding the possibility of introducing such a measure. 

The project gradually gained momentum, and in March 2021 European politicians were actively discussing the expediency of full access by the authorities to private correspondence of EU residents. 

Then, in July of the same year, a majority of deputies of the European Parliament supported an initiative granting providers the right to read residents’ messages voluntarily, of course, “for the sake of security.”

And now European officials have continued to tighten the controls and take radical steps.

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What does it mean?

Now the European Commission will oblige service providers to identify, transmit information about detection, and block any materials related to scenes of sexual abuse of minors. 

Suppliers will need to assess and minimize the risks of “misuse of their internet services and applications.” To assist service providers, the European Commission has proposed the creation of a European Center for Combating Child Sexual Abuse.

The main task of the department will be to provide “reliable information about the identified materials.” The Center will also receive and analyze notifications from service providers so that false information about unacceptable content is not transmitted to the relevant EU authorities. 

If the service provider cannot remove prohibited materials related to pornographic content with a minor from its service or platform, then it will need to restrict access to them in some way.

What’s wrong with the initiative?

Upon closer examination, it turns out that the European Union violates its own previously approved rules. 

In October 2020, the European Court of Justice issued a decision prohibiting the governments of EU states from carrying out total surveillance of users’ personal data.

Mass surveillance issue

The court’s ruling noted that mass surveillance is unacceptable even for security reasons since it violates fundamental human rights (in particular, the right to privacy) and runs counter to the legal documents of the EU itself.

By that time, most European countries had long been legally forcing local communication and internet providers to store information about calls and internet activity of citizens on their servers for six months, and in some countries for a longer period. 

However, the verdict of the European Court for some reason did not force the governments of the EU member states to abandon their idea of total control of messengers and email.

Back in March 2021, the British company YouGov conducted a survey among European residents regarding the possible monitoring of their correspondence. It turned out that 72 percent of Europeans were against their correspondence being in the hands of the authorities. 

Further research has also shown that across Europe, the vast majority of the population categorically does not accept violations of the privacy of their electronic communication.

In turn, the main driver of the fight against this digital aggression of the EU was the activist and MEP Patrick Breuer, ironically representing the Pirate Party of Germany. In his comments on the Strange Sounds website, he stated: 

“This espionage attack on our private messages and photos using error-prone algorithms is a giant step towards a “surveillance state.” Is the next step to open all the emails in the mail and scan them?”

Breuer recalls that the “fight against child pornography” is just a screen, and the real goal is the mass surveillance of Europeans. He urges people to contact the European Commission directly and protest against the impending digital lawlessness of Brussels.

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