To fight more effectively against the dissemination of child pornography content, Europe wants to work twice as hard, to the point of considering serious consequences on the privacy of users.
Faced with the skyrocketing pedocrime, the European Union wants strong measures, even if it encroaches on the privacy of its fellow citizens. This week, MPs passed by 537 votes in favour, 133 against and 24 abstentions a new directive to “better protect children from sexual abuse and exploitation when using email, chat line and messaging”.
Voted for a period of three years, this temporary decision plans to fight more effectively against child pornography exchanges, by allowing providers to use additional technologies to set up increased surveillance of communications. This could (among other things) involve the abandonment of message encryption.
Breaking the encryption, what risk for privacy?
In concrete terms, this derogation will allow telecoms to monitor our exchanges more assiduously, abandoning end-to-end encryption. The platforms will not be allowed to listen to audio conversations, but may use computer hashing to analyze images and videos. Artificial intelligence can also be used to analyze textual data as well as several other ancillary elements relating to traffic, specifies the text. Everything will be based on a voluntary basis, and will have to make sure to use the least intrusive technologies possible.
The project has obviously raised eyebrows among privacy advocates. Many are already beginning to speak out against the project, which is likely to open the door to a future mass surveillance on European soil. Especially since just a few months ago, the EU warned Apple, which was considering a similar solution for the same reasons. “This agreement is a compromise that helps detect online child sexual abuse and protect users’ personal data. It may not be perfect, but it is a viable temporary solution for the next three years”concedes Birgit Sippel, German MEP behind this legislation.