Next week on Wednesday (May 11), the EU Commission will present an EU draft law on mandatory chat control to the public for the first time. Similar to Apple’s highly controversial “SpyPhone” plans, the Commission wants to oblige all providers of email, chat and messaging services to search for suspicious messages in a fully automated way and forward them to the police in the fight against “child pornography”. This will require them to monitor and scan the communications of citizens en masse – even if they are still securely encrypted end-to-end so far.
MEP and civil rights activist Dr. Patrick Breyer (Pirate Party) comments:
“This spying attack on our private messages and photos by error-prone algorithms is a giant step towards a Chinese-style surveillance state. Will the next step be for the post office to open and scan all letters? Organized child porn rings don’t use email or messenger services, but darknet forums. With its plans to break secure encryption, the EU Commission is putting the overall security of our private communications and public networks, trade secrets and state secrets at risk to please short-term surveillance desires. Opening the door to foreign intelligence services and hackers is completely irresponsible. To stop chat control, the net community must go to the barricades as!”
In March, 35 organisations worldwide, including the German Lawyers Association, Digitale Gesellschaft, and the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), had warned against the EU’s chat control law.
In an expert opinion, a former ECJ judge pointed out last year that the warrantless interception of private communications violates the case law of the European Court of Justice. According to a poll 72% of citizens oppose the indiscriminate scanning of their private communications. The German government coalition agreement states on the topic on chat control: “We reject measures to scan private communications.”
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