No agreement, but EC sticks to introduction of client-side scanning

No agreement, but EC sticks to introduction of client-side scanning

The European Commission stands by its proposal to introduce client-side scanning to check messages from EU residents. This is despite the fact that no agreement has been reached within the EU for the time being.

According to Swedish EU Commissioner Ylva Johansson, it remains important that the EU obtain permanent legislation allowing client-side scanning for checking instant messages. If permanent legislation is not possible, the current temporary laws for this purpose should be maintained, she argues.

The Commissioner made this comment in response to the release of a report on the recent results of detecting child abuse and other evidence of harmful content using client-side scanning.

According to Johansson, permanent legislation in this area is indispensable. It would be necessary to put prevention first. In addition, it would require companies to detect abusive material when prevention fails, and ensure that these commercial parties also take responsibility.

Without legislation, according to Commissioner Johansson, it becomes impossible to stop the spread of abusive material in online messages.

No EU agreement

Within the EU, there is currently no agreement among member states to permanently introduce client-side scanning. In addition to objections from member states themselves, various privacy organizations are already litigating about this, while other privacy regulators in the EU are also highly critical of the proposal.

Many problems surrounding client-side scanning

Specifically, European privacy experts indicate that the proposed client-side scanning would also harm the private communications of individuals unrelated to child abuse. It would also allow images identified as abuse material to simply be self-produced images of minors shared with consent.

This could lead to people being falsely accused of distributing abuse material or people being falsely identified as abuse victims.

In addition, the detection technology is not yet technically adequate enough and the proposed legislation undermines the use of end-to-end encryption, experts claim. Furthermore, the report notes that the EU plan focuses too much on private messages, while child pornography is often found on image hosting websites.

Finally, there is a risk that the amount of images reported as suspicious by client-side scanning will overwhelm the systems of the relevant investigative agencies.

Also read: EU promotes law on client-side scanning on X, noyb files complaint