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The EU Could Push its Private Message Ban as Early as Next Week

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The EU is getting ever closer to pushing through the legislation known among critics as “chat control” – officially, Child Sexual Abuse Regulation, CSAR – and is hoping to reach a deal on this within the bloc as early as next week.

One of those who have been consistently opposed to the controversial upcoming rules, a German member of European Parliament (MEP) and lawyer Patrick Breyer, has reacted by warning once again that regardless of some minor changes if passed, the bill would effectively spell the end of proper encryption and private messaging in the EU.

Instead, the implication is, that CSAR would usher in the era of indiscriminate mass surveillance in this part of the digital space.

Warning that a recent “minor concession” the EU member-states have managed to agree on was a bid to finally come up with a majority and push the plans over the top, Breyer, referring to the proposal as “chat control 2.0,” calls it an “unprecedented” (at least for the EU) example of mass surveillance.

The summary of the regulation is that online services that provide messaging and chat would, going forward, have to implement automatic scanning of all private text and images – looking for potential abusive content, and then let the EU know about it.

There is no shortage of controversy and misgivings here, with two clearly standing out: once in place, what can this infrastructure be used for next (if politicians decide) – and the other, how are online platforms even supposed to make it work accurately and fairly, technically speaking?

Now, we are hearing that the EU Council is looking to “soften the blow,” at least rhetorically, but saying that the scanning would at first only apply to “previously classified CSAM (child sexual abuse material)” – but then later still expand it to everything.

So, the “compromise” idea is not to address or fix any of the key objections, but to, so to speak, “boil the frog slowly.”

Breyer is unimpressed.

“The proposed text would mandate the implementation of surveillance bugs and vulnerabilities into currently securely end-to-end encrypted messenger apps (…) it would mean the end of secure encryption because we could never be sure whether our messages or photos would be forwarded to persons we don’t know and can’t trust,” he writes on his blog.

And, he continues – “the proposed indiscriminate mass scanning of private communications of millions of citizens not even remotely connected with crime would inevitably be struck down by the courts, utterly betraying the hopes of children or victims.”

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