EU plans to monitor private online chats under the guise of combating child abuse
04/11/2024 // Laura Harris // Views

The European Union is planning to pass new regulations supposedly to combat child sexual abuse online that will allow it to monitor private online messages for illegal content, stirring controversy all over the continent.

Initially introduced in May 2022, the EU presented the first draft of the "Proposal for a Regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council laying down rules to prevent and combat child sexual abuse," dubbed the "chat control" legislation.

The proposal would allow service providers to indiscriminately scan all private chats, messages and emails for suspicious content to combat child sexual exploitation material. This monitoring also includes ineffective network blocking, scrutiny of personal cloud storage containing private photos, compulsory age verification leading to the demise of anonymous communication, censorship of app stores and the exclusion of minors from the digital realm. (Related: Police officers now have access to trillions of U.S. phone records, thanks to secret White House surveillance program.)

However, the proposal faced strong criticism due to infringements on privacy rights through mass surveillance of private messages and chats.

Despite calls for revision, leaked documents from the French news service Contexte suggest that the key components triggering privacy concerns remain largely unchanged.

According to Patrick Breyer, a German member of the European Parliament and a vocal critic of the proposal, the new version fails to address "the nature of detection orders." Instead, Breyer argues that the proposal would only breach privacy by indiscriminately scanning private messages. He warns that the use of client-side scanning would only compromise end-to-end encryption and turn smartphones into surveillance tools.

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Moreover, the regulation's supposed focus on only monitoring "high-risk services" is arbitrary and fails to acknowledge the widespread misuse of communication platforms for illegal activities. The same goes with the notification of law enforcement only in cases of repeat hits, which overlooks the unreliability of algorithms in distinguishing legal from explicit content.

"Millions of private chats and private photos of law-abiding citizens are to be searched and leaked using flawed technology, without them being even remotely connected to child sexual abuse – this destroys our digital privacy of correspondence," said Breyer. "Despite lip service being paid to encryption, client-side scanning is to be used to undermine previously secure end-to-end encryption in order to turn our smartphones into spies – this destroys secure encryption."

"Limiting bulk chat searches to ‘high-risk services’ is meaningless because every communication service is misused also for sharing illegal images and therefore has an imminently high risk of abuse. Informing law enforcement only of repeat hits is also meaningless, as falsely flagged beach pictures or consensual sexting rarely involve just a single photo," Breyer further explained.

Several reports prove lapses of chat control scanners in EU

Breyer also supported his claims with several reports from different countries.

According to Breyer, 40 percent of corresponding reports from the United States to German authorities do not meet criminal standards. This issue extends to Switzerland, where the Swiss Federal Police has recorded that up to 80 percent of the suspicious activity reports originating from the U.S. lack criminal relevance in recent years.

Similarly, in a U.S. National Center for Missing and Exploited Children 2020 referral to Ireland about suspected child sexual abuse material and people who shared it with Irish police since 2010, the Irish Council for Civil Liberties discovered that more than 11 percent (471 referrals) of those were not child abuse material. The people on the list were innocent and the materials were innocuous images or videos, such as children playing on a beach.

But even after clearing the people on the list, Irish police did not delete their data, and up until now the number of people cleared of suspicion of sharing the material in the police's files remains uncertain.

In turn, Breyer said mandatory chat controls would essentially subject everyone to algorithmic scrutiny without probable cause, potentially leading to unjust outcomes. "Chat control would criminalize innocent people on a massive scale instead of arresting the people behind it. They encrypt the photos and then upload them to a server," he added.

Visit for more stories on the abuse of surveillance technology.

Watch the video below to learn how apps allow federal enforcement to track phones.

This video is from the Mckenna channel on

More related stories:

FBI surveillance contractor infiltrated chatrooms, monitored skeptics of COVID jabs.

Congress approves extension of U.S. government’s warrantless surveillance powers despite opposition.

Alarm sounded over rapidly increasing use of SURVEILLANCE SYSTEMS inside schools.

Sources include: 1 2

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