Research published yesterday by several European media outlets has revealed that an international campaign in support of the EU’s proposed child sexual abuse regulation has been largely orchestrated and financed by a network of organisations with links to the tech industry and security services. The controversial “chat control” regulation would require providers to indiscriminately scan and automatically disclose allegedly suspicious private messages and photos. EU Parliament lawmaker Patrick Breyer (Pirate Party), negotiator for the Greens/European Free Alliance group on the proposed regulation, expresses shock:
“As negotiator for my group, many of the organisations mentioned in the report, which call themselves child protection organisations or victims’ associations, also contacted me. But I had no idea that the pro-chat control campaign was being orchestrated and funded by a network of organisations linked to the tech industry and security services, drawing millions in funding from a US-led foundation and paying foreign consulting agencies to create lobbying strategies. I had previously only expected corporations to use such methods of ‘capturing legislation’.
To set a precedent, US stakeholders apparently want to push through indiscriminate screening of our private messages and photos in Europe, which is not law in the US itself.
So far, the EU’s Home Affairs Commission has mainly attracted attention as a source of misinformation on chat control. Yesterday’s report makes EU Home Affairs Commissioner Ylva Johansson look like a double agent of foreign interference. We urgently need a legislative footprint that exposes such remote-controlled and foreign-dictated legislation. This is about nothing less than defending our democracy and our fundamental right to digital privacy of correspondence!”
Commenting on the report, President of non-commercial encrypted messaging service Signal Meredith Whittaker said, “the best follow the money reporting on who’s behind the global attack on digital privacy yet.
It’s law enforcement x AI companies posing as NGOs with a commercial interest in selling scammy mass scanning tech. Deeply cynical, deeply shady.”
Cryptologist Matthew Green commented, “Just saw this new investigation into the web of for-profit AI companies pushing anti-encryption legislation in Europe, and it feels like the work of secret organization in a James Bond movie.”
Diego Naranjo, Head of Policy of European Digital Rights, said “The investigation published today confirms our worst fears: The most criticised European law touching on technology in the last decade is the product of the lobby of private corporations and law enforcement. Commissioner Johansson ignored academia and civil society in Europe while she shook hands with Big Tech in order to propose a law that will attempt to legalise mass surveillance and break encryption.”