Soon backdoors in messengers? No, European CNILs say

The European Commission’s bill on combating child pornography is sharply criticized by European police officers for protecting personal data.

This is a major setback for the European Commission. Last May, he introduced a new bill to combat child pornography. This text, if adopted, will allow automatic analysis by artificial intelligence directly on user terminals. The idea is to detect not only known or unknown illegal content, but also attempts by an adult to contact a minor (“grooming” or pédoépigéage in French). In other words, this includes the creation of very sophisticated backdoors capable of bypassing the end-to-end encryption of instant messaging and other communication services.

A project worthy of a Big Brother

Very quickly, this bill caused outrage among security researchers and human rights activists. The European data protection gendarmes have now, in turn, pilloried this project. The European Data Protection Board, which includes, among others, the Presidents of the 27 CNIL of the European Union and the European Data Protection Inspector, has just published an extremely negative 36-page opinion on the text of the Commission. This would pose “more risks to individuals and therefore to society as a whole than to criminals prosecuted for content of child pornography,” read the press release.

Indeed, this authority considers that the terms of analysis presented in this draft are neither clear nor precise. Therefore, they risk leading to “universal and indiscriminate” Big Brother-style surveillance of all digital communications. The use of artificial intelligence seems especially undesirable because “it can generate errors and is very intrusive.” “Even if this technology is limited to the use of indicators, the negative impact of widespread surveillance of people’s text and audio communications is so serious that it cannot be justified under the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights,” says Wojciech Wieworowski. , European Data Protection Inspector.

Restrict data sharing with Europol

The Committee also believes that end-to-end encryption is a fundamental pillar for protecting privacy and freedom of expression, a pillar that must not be weakened for the benefit of all. Finally, the European authorities note the creation of a new organization called the EU Center, which will deal with the fight against child pornography. He will have full access to the Europol databases and vice versa. But in the eyes of the data protection police, this level of exchange would be exaggerated. “The transfer of data between the EU Center and Europol should only be carried out on a case-by-case basis,” the notice says.

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