CSAM, don't weaken end-to-end encryption: the European countries that have taken sides

The member states of the European Union will vote around the end of October on the bill that provides for the establishment of a mechanism automated scanning of personal messages of users, approximately 500 million citizens. We are talking about contents transferred through the main instant messaging apps and emails. The declared objective is to identify so-called contents, using automated procedures and artificial intelligence CASS (Child Sexual Abuse Material). Whoever is in possession or transfers these contents is immediately reported to the local authorities, who are called to initiate the appropriate proceedings.

The purpose of the legislation is undoubtedly noble but, as highlighted by many, the legal provisions actually open the doors to a mass surveillance which has only been seen in the most oppressive totalitarian regimes.

As many experts have highlighted, the proposed platform is dangerous: the European Commission would provide commercial messaging services there scan user messages on their own devices, regardless of whether end-to-end encryption is enabled. The tests conducted to date have demonstrated how much automated scanning solutions can generate false positives: the result is that private photos and messages can be forwarded to the authorities even when they are perfectly legitimate.

CSAM, several countries are against the bill dubbed Chat Control 2.0

As we explained in the article cited previously, the law sees the Swedish as its main promoter Ylva Johanssonis nicknamed by her detractors Chat Control 2.0. Precisely because it would extend the obligation to examine the message contents conveyed to or from European users.

As presented, Chat Control 2.0 puts the possibility of doing so in the hands of the European Authorities monitor communications of citizens with the help of artificial intelligence to search for suspicious material, without the need for a court order. The result is that the crittografia end-to-end it would automatically be violated because a third party has the right to read other people’s messages and have them examined by appointed officials.

Finland gets in the way of Germany, Austria and Estonia

In recent days, Finnish parliamentarians have praised the idea behind the bill on combating CSAM materials but, at the same time, expressed a negative opinion regarding the current proposal, noting that end-to-end encryption cannot and must not be weakened. In fact, it is unacceptable to “deterioration in the level of data security and cybersecurity of communications and communications services“.

Finland also believes that the European proposal cannot be supported in a form that opens the door to mass surveillance activities. The monitoring of communications should in fact be carried out only on specific objectives and not extended to the entire audience of citizens of entire nations.

It must be said that Johansson’s proposal will pass if it does not collect the negative opinion of countries that, overall, represent at least 35% of citizens residing within the borders of the European Union. As the article published in June 2023 by the Stanford Law Schoola oppose Chat Control 2.0 there are – in addition to Finland – also Germany, Austria and Estonia. The most convinced supporters appear to be Spain, Hungary, Slovenia, Croatia, Cyprus and Lithuania.

Europe’s position on CSAM and Chat Control 2.0

L’Europe instead expressed considerable doubts on a technical level (potentially inadequate AI-based scanning), on the need to avoid such an extensive scanning obligation (“it would represent a generalized control over all encrypted correspondence sent across the network“), on the impacts in terms of violation of privacy for individual citizens, on the consequences for the police bodies which would be overwhelmed by an enormous volume of reports (including one “considerable amount of false positives”).


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