EU lawyers say plan to scan private messages for child abuse may be unlawful

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Article written by Daniel Boffey, via on 08 May 2023

An EU plan under which all WhatsApp, iMessage and Snapchat accounts could be screened for child abuse content has hit a significant obstacle after internal legal advice said it would probably be annulled by the courts for breaching users’ rights.
Privacy campaigners and the service providers have already warned that the proposed EU regulation and a similar online safety bill in the UK risk end-to-end encryption services such as WhatsApp disappearing from Europe.
The lawyers conclude the proposed regulation is at “serious risk of exceeding the limits of what is appropriate and necessary in order to meet the legitimate objectives pursued, and therefore of failing to comply with the principle of proportionality”.
The legal service also raises concerns that by seeking to clamp down on the solicitation of children, the providers would have to introduce age verification technology and processes to popular encrypted services.
Despite the advice, it is understood that 10 EU member states – Belgium, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania and Spain – back continuing with the regulation without amendment.

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