The European Union (EU) might at this point in time be floundering for a new way to get attention, regarding many of the key points that brought about its existence in the first place.
But continuing to advance free-speech-and-privacy-undermining policies, unfortunately, doesn’t seem to be one of the quandaries the bloc finds itself in.
In fact, the EU seems to show a rare display of clarity – and purpose – when dealing with these issues. Unfortunately, that does not benefit rights and freedoms, at least not as we knew them until these last few years.
Colloquially known by critics as “chat control” (EU’s CSAM – child sexual abuse – Regulation) is still passing through the figurative “bowels” of the EU (and nation-states) legislative and decision-making system.
Currently, it’s with the EU Commission’s reporting about how effective voluntary application of the legislation might be, and the result has disappointed long-time critic and member of the European Parliament (MEP) from Germany, Patrick Breyer.
In a blog post, Breyer explains that while the formal premise (once again) is simply to bolster online protection of children – the law actually looks to make Big Tech social platforms (Facebook, Google, etc) allow wholesale intrusive surveillance of private communications – including chat and emails.
And this is to be happening as a form of “pre-crime scanning” – or as Breyer puts it, automatic and indiscriminate bulk search of personal content.
So, how effective does the EU Commission think it is?
“The long overdue evaluation of voluntary chat control turns out to be a disaster: Provided figures on suspicious activity reports, identifications and convictions lack any proven connection to the chat control bulk scanning of private messages because NCMEC (National Center for Missing & Exploited Children) reports also result of user reports and the scanning of public posts/websites,” writes Breyer.
The MEP makes a further point in clarifying that a system that includes its results the “success” of identifying (by having effectively unimpeded access to everybody’s phone) sexual content exchanged between consenting adult individuals is “hardly a challenge and does not protect anyone from child sexual abuse.”
(Clearly, here the legislation is hitting the brick wall of the limitations of algorithms, that is, automated censorship tech.)
Breyer’s point is also that this form of mass surveillance in the EU is to be carried out by US companies.
But “the horse of EU’s sovereignty” on a whole range of issues may have simply left the barn a while ago – hence, the “chat control” mechanism is simply one of the many symptoms of the one and same ill.
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