Two visions collide on how to fight online child abuse in Europe

Encrypted messaging services were quick to condemn the commission’s proposal. Julia Weiss, a spokeswoman for Swiss messaging app Threema, says the company was not willing to undermine its users’ privacy in any way. “Building a monitoring system to proactively check all private content was a horrible idea when Apple proposed it, and it’s a horrible idea now,” added Will Cathcart, President of WhatsApp, in a Twitter post. In August 2021, Apple announced a proposal to screen its users’ photos for child sexual abuse material, but after heavy criticism, it postponed those plans indefinitely a month later.

But the European Commissioner for Home Affairs, Ylva Johansson, was committed in her pursuit of this law. “I am prepared to hear criticism from companies, because disclosure of child sexual abuse material and child protection may not be profitable, but it is necessary,” she said at a news conference on Wednesday. It added that the tools used to conduct any survey should be the least intrusive technology and should be selected in consultation with data protection authorities.

Johansson’s proposal does not specify what kind of technology these companies should use to screen messages. The reason for this, says the commissioner, is that legislation does not become outdated as new privacy-friendly solutions are invented. Its proponents say the law will also incentivize companies to devote more resources to creating the tools they will be tasked with using later. “I am increasingly confident that if the environment is right and if there is a normative legal framework that protects children and adolescents, then the companies and solutions that can end this crisis can be created,” says Paul Zeitz, executive coordinator. The Brave Movement, a group representing survivors of childhood sexual violence.

But privacy groups say this approach means basing the legislation on an impossible technology. “It doesn’t matter how many times Commissioner Johansson says publicly that you can delete encrypted messages safely and with complete respect for privacy,” says Jakoposka. “That doesn’t make it real.”

The regulation still needs approval by the European Parliament and EU member states, which could take years. But critics, including Germany’s Federal Commissioner for Data Protection, Ulrich Kelber, have done so Pledge To stop the current suggestion. “Since some points will lead to solutions that severely conflict with fundamental rights, the regulation should not under any circumstances continue in this form,” he said Thursday.

However, Johansson remains unfazed. In an interview with WIRED, she described the fight against child sexual abuse as a cause that seems very personal. “As a mother, I feel compelled to protect my children,” she says. “As an adult, I am obligated to protect all children. And as a politician, when I have the power to propose legislation to protect children, I believe I am morally obligated to propose such legislation.”

Other members of the European Parliament accused Johansson of injecting an emotional intensity into the debate that made it difficult to criticize details in the law without feeling that they did not care about children suffering from child abuse.

However, the commissioner can appeal to supporters among child sexual abuse survivors, who say they admire her strong rhetoric and clear language on topics still considered taboo.

Says Mai Kohiama, a French child sex survivor who is also part of the Brave movement, which was set up earlier this year. “It’s very important to us.”

Two visions collide on how to fight online child abuse in Europe

Source link Two visions collide on how to fight online child abuse in Europe

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