Chat control: stage victory for Europeans' secure communication
The EU Parliament overturns critical aspects of the EU Commission's controversial bill on warrantless chat control.
- No warrantless monitoring
- End-to-end encrypted interpersonal communications must not be monitored
- Client-side scanning was rejected
- The right to anonymous communication remains
The political groups of the EU Parliament yesterday agreed on a common position on suspicionless mass surveillance of communications. The corresponding compromises were presented the same day by the negotiators of the Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs (LIBE). The EU Parliament’s civil liberties committee will take a final vote on the proposals on November 13, 2023.
The most important positions at a glance
No surveillance without any reason
The EU Commission's original proposal for blanket surveillance of all users has been scrapped. Only individual persons or groups of persons are to be monitored - and only with judicial authorization. The current voluntary chat monitoring of private messages (not in social networks) by U.S. Internet companies is also to be gradually abolished.
End-to-end encryption and client-side scanning
The EU Parliament wants to strengthen trust in secure end-to-end encryption. Therefore, end-to-end encrypted interpersonal communications must not be monitored. In addition, the use of so-called client-side scanning is excluded, i.e. the installation of monitoring functions and security loopholes in smartphones.
Right to anonymous communication
The EU Parliament also strengthens the right to anonymous communication and wants to abolish the mandatory age verification for users of communication services proposed by the EU Commission. Whistleblowers can thus continue to anonymously expose wrongdoing without having to show their ID or face.
A step in the right direction
"In our view, the agreement reached by the Interior Committee on October 26 is an essentially important step in the right direction, which we welcome. Mass surveillance of private individuals' communications without suspicion not only jeopardizes the digital privacy of correspondence but is also contrary to fundamental rights, as it would invalidate the presumption of innocence, a principle of the rule of law. End-to-end encryption is also to remain possible under the proposals of the Interior Committee. We also see this as a victory for freedom of thought and expression. We look forward to the results of the final vote by the committee on November 13 and the subsequent trilogue negotiations with the EU Commission and the individual member states.
Our appeal to national and Commission leaders: Listen to those responsible from the Interior Committee and leave the topic of chat control alone once and for all! Not only will essential European rights and constitutional principles be preserved in this way, but there are also numerous methods for the actual goal of chat control - the protection of children and young people online - that are much more effective. The proposals from the European Parliament offer valuable starting points here." Peer Heinlein, founder and CEO of mailbox.org
The discussions surrounding the draft law, which threatens the whole of Europe with surveillance machinery, have been occupying us for some time now. We look forward with excitement, but also optimism, to the final agreement of the EU Parliament’s civil liberties committee on November 13, 2023.