During the last week of October, the European Parliament reached a historic broad majority agreement on a unified position regarding the European Commission’s controversial Child Sexual Abuse Regulation (CSAR) proposal.
The original CSAR proposal was dubbed the ‘Chat Control’ proposal due to its plan to legalise the scanning of private messages, even encrypted ones, as well as cloud storage spaces of individuals and groups, to identify and report potential child sexual abuse materials. It also contains a number of other controversial suggestions, including client-side scanning (the installation of surveillance functionalities in end user devices such as smartphones and tablets), mandatory age verification when downloading messaging or gaming applications, and more.
It is very difficult to oppose a proposal when its purpose is to protect children. However, the European Parliament reached an agreement that destruction of online privacy is not the best way to combat child abuse online. Instead, the Parliament’s proposal emphasises the importance of "security by design", warning potential perpetrators and victims when inappropriate search terms are used, moderating high-risk public chats. It also suggests to proactively search internet content, including the darknet, for CSA materials, and insists on providers having to promptly remove illegal material. Finally, the proposal also safeguards digital privacy, removing blanket chat control plans while allowing targeted surveillance only with a judicial warrant. End-to-end encryption and anonymous communication rights would also thus be upheld.