The European Union (EU) released a legislative proposal that would allow the scanning of encrypted end-to-end messages to help combat child sexual abuse.
If implemented, the legislation would require tech companies to scan through encrypted messages in various messaging platforms in order to examine the amounts of child sexual abuse material (CSAM) on their platforms.
Authorities or courts may also issue “detection orders” which would require tech firms to begin “installing and running devices” to detect CSAMs.
“Upholding and protecting children’s rights online as well as offline is essential to the well-being of our societies. Online child sexual abuse material is a product of the manifested physical sexual abuse of children. It is highly criminal.” said Dubravka Šuica, Vice-President for Democracy and Demography of the EU.
Civil rights groups and security experts have expressed concern over the EU’s proposal to read people’s conversations and warned that it could jeopardize end-to-end encryption that has become the standard on messaging apps such as iMessage and WhatsApp.
“Incredibly disappointing to see a proposed EU regulation on the internet fail to protect end-to-end encryption,” said WhatsApp head Will Cathcart in a tweet.
According to the EU, 85 million images and videos that depict child sexual abuse were reported worldwide in 2021.
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