EU Officials Dodge Their Own Surveillance Law

By Didi Rankovic – Reclaim The Net

Leaked documents suggest EU officials seek immunity from their own controversial online surveillance laws, raising accusations of hypocrisy.

Do as I say – not as I do. That’s the essence of a leak that claims to expose high-ranked EU officials as more than simply politicking hypocrites when it comes to implementing the extremely controversial legislation affecting online privacy and encryption.

Namely, interior ministers from EU member countries reportedly want to exempt themselves – but not only – from the looming Child Sexual Abuse (CSAM) Regulation (aka, “chat control“), expected to be adopted as early as in June.

Pushed by supporters as being exactly what it says on the tin – the proposed new rules are at the same time criticized as a vehicle for indiscriminate mass surveillance of everyone’s online communications, and a way to weaken true encryption deployed by platforms – a vital component of internet security, once again, affecting everyone who goes online, children included.

German member of European Parliament (MEP), Pirate Party member, and lawyer Patrick Breyer, who has been investing a lot of time and energy in drawing EU public’s attention to the dangers that come with the regulation, is now quoting leaked documents published by the French site Contexte, which may or may not prove the context of the already troubled proposed rules, just got even worse.

That’s because, according to Contexte, “EU interior ministers want to exempt professional accounts of staff of intelligence agencies, police and military from the envisaged scanning of chats and messages.”

In addition to ministers, police, and spies, anything that’s labeled as “professional secret” is also supposed to be exempt from this highly invasive (when it comes to everybody else in the EU) type of content scanning.

In a statement, Breyer’s take on the revelations is that these officials are well aware that chat control scans are “unreliable and dangerous snooping algorithms” – and yet have no problem “unleashing (them) on us, citizens.”

Regarding the “professional secrets” provision – Breyer calls it “a lie cast in paragraphs.”

“No provider and no algorithm can know or determine whether a chat is being conducted with doctors, therapists, lawyers, defense lawyers, etc. so as to exempt it from chat control,” he writes.

And he seems to think that what might be behind these exemptions is the EU interior ministers worried that military secrets with no connection to CSAM would become “readily available” to the US – likely, because of the broad and “leaky” nature of the regulation itself and the amount of data it hopes to access.

According to Breyer, this provision exempting various officials and their communication “makes a mockery” of the stated purpose of the legislation, i.e., protecting children online, while the EU, instead of looking into best ways to actually achieve that, is descending into “China-style mass surveillance, and not better protecting our children.”

“We know that most of the chats leaked by today’s voluntary snooping algorithms are of no relevance to the police, for example family photos or consensual sexting,” the MEP says.

“It is outrageous that the EU interior ministers themselves do not want to suffer the consequences of the destruction of digital privacy of correspondence and secure encryption that they are imposing on us,” Breyer concludes.

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