WASHINGTON— In response to the European Union’s new proposal, the “Regulation laying down rules to prevent and combat child sexual abuse,” the Center for Data Innovation issued the following statement from Senior Policy Analyst Kir Nuthi:
European policymakers and the general public agree that keeping children safe online is of the utmost importance. However, the European Union’s proposed legislation to protect against child predation online threatens secure communication in Europe and puts Europeans’ privacy and data at risk.
By requiring websites to filter and scan for child sexual abuse material (CSAM) as well as potential grooming on websites and online services, the proposed legislation opens up the doors for client-side scanning of messages and the destruction of end-to-end encryption—all of which will misguidedly destroy the privacy and security consumers have come to expect online. Worse, by treating encryption as willful blindness by online services, the proposal threatens to degrade online privacy and make the data of users of all ages more vulnerable to hacking, data breaches, and other abuse by bad actors.
The Union can do more to address CSAM, including better coordination with law enforcement and dedicating more resources to pursue those who disseminate or solicit this material. In pushing for widespread scanning of private communications within this proposal, the European Union is opening up Pandora’s Box concerning data security and Europeans’ personal information online.