New EU Law Could Allow Bulk Scanning Of Digital Messages (Update: Postponed)

The EU is getting one step closer to passing a new set of rules and regulations that mandate scanning of digital texts including those which are encrypted.

EU government officials are said to adopt a plan and position on that specific legislation that’s aimed at detecting child abuse material. This particular vote is going to determine if such a proposal has the right kind of support to move forward in this entire EU law-making endeavor.

This particular vote is going to see if the proposal has the right kind of support or not when moving forward in this entire process of making laws across the EU.

This law was first launched in the year 2022 and it’s said to roll out the right type of uploading moderation that goes through messages like links, pictures, and videos. Moreover, every service is needed for installing a new vetted type of monitoring technology that needs the user’s permission for scanning of texts. In case you don’t feel like agreeing, you will not be able to share pictures or any URLs.

It’s quite wild when you actually come to think of it. Such proposed legislation seems to promote and then reject all E2E encryption at the start. Initially, it would highlight how the E2E is required to protect a user’s fundamental rights. But that goes on to mention how encrypted text services could turn into secure zones where child abuse could be promoted or shared across the board.

The goal appears to be leaving texts open for the purpose of scanning but also ensuring the privacy layer isn’t impacted via E2E encryption. Such moderation systems might achieve this through the messages’ content before platforms such as Signal, Messenger, and WhatsApp go on encrypting.

As a response to this, the head of Signal claims the platform would stop working in this region if the rule is transformed into a law. They feel such proposals undermine the likes of encryption, no matter if it’s scanned before the encryption takes place. Some refer to it as the backdoor while others call it the front door.

Signal strongly condemns the act and deems it to be a form of vulnerability that could get exploited by so many hackers and hostile countries. Hence, this removes the safeguards related to unbreakable math and puts things in the right place, giving rise to major dangers.

So many companies such as the Electronic Frontier Foundation would sign a joint statement urging the European Union for proposal rejection that scans the material.

Now, privacy advocates don’t seem to be the sole individuals ringing the alarm bell before such a proposal comes into play. This past week, dozens of members of the Parliament were seen writing to the European Union Council about how they wished to express opposition linked to proposals.

Other leaders from Germany’s Parliament feel the same way about such bills and they feel indiscriminate searches and leaks linked to private chats and personal images destroy an individual’s right to privacy.

For now, experts feel discussions linked to chat control laws didn’t just come out of the blue. It was cleverly timed because the upcoming EU elections would have a significant role to play here.

If such a law does end up gaining support, more discussion on this front will begin between the Parliament, Commission, and others to have the final law come into play.

So many lawmakers do understand how such rights end up carrying out mass surveillance but they don’t wish to be seen as the opposing scheme which is framed on combatting child abuse and other explicit content.


The EU’s “chat control” regulation, which aimed to combat child sexual abuse by scanning all digital communications, has been delayed. A win for digital privacy advocates. The Belgian Council presidency has blocked the adoption of measures that would have compromised private messaging and encryption. Many Europeans have been opposing this for a long time. Patrick Breyer, MEP and Pirate Party digital freedom spokesperson, welcomes the delay: “The resistance has protected digital privacy and encryption from mass surveillance.” He calls on critical governments to rethink their approach and come up with a new strategy that protects children without mass surveillance. Breyer outlines four key points for revision: no chat control, protect encryption, protect anonymity, no app censorship for minors. The proposal has been heavily criticized for violating fundamental rights and enabling mass surveillance. Now is the time to come up with a more balanced child protection strategy.

Image: DIW-Aigen

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