Brussels, Europe Brief News – The European Commissioner for Home Affairs defended her proposal to clamp down on child sexual abuse online as “well-reasoned” and “legally solid” following criticism from data protection watchdogs.
The Commission unveiled its Better Internet for Kids strategy in May. The plan would require social media platforms or communication providers to pro-actively look for Child Sexual Abuse Material (CSAM) shared online and to automatically share it with national authorities and a new EU expertise centre.
Tech companies would also be forced to monitor encrypted content, which many experts immediately decried as an attack on privacy and the potential beginning of generalised surveillance in the EU.
The European Data Protection Board (EDPB) and the European Data Protection Supervisor (EDPS) joined the criticism on 29 July, arguing in a joint opinion that the Commission’s proposal “may present more risks to individuals, and, by extension, to society at large than to the criminals pursued for CSAM.”
The independent watchdogs expressed “serious concerns about the impact of the envisaged measures on individuals’ privacy and personal data” and said that “there is a risk that the Proposal could become the basis for a generalised and indiscriminate scanning of content of virtually all types of electronic communications.”
They also argued that the use of technologies to scan users’ communications, such as artificial intelligence, could generate errors and would represent “a high level of intrusiveness into the privacy of individuals”.
Finally, they underlined the importance of encryption when it comes to respecting private life, the confidentiality of communications, freedom of expression, innovation and growth of the digital economy and stressed that “preventing or discouraging, in any way, the use of end-to-end encryption would seriously weaken the role of encryption in general.”