Facebook, Google and other online platforms will in future be allowed to scan the private messages of their users in the European Union for photos and videos of abused children. Negotiators from the EU states and the European Parliament agreed on a corresponding transitional arrangement on Thursday evening, as both sides announced. Since the new EU code for electronic communication came into effect on December 21, the filtering of messages sent via mail and messenger services is actually no longer allowed. That is why EU Interior Commissioner Ylva Johansson proposed an interim solution in September 2020.
The new regulation, which has yet to be formally confirmed by both sides, is to apply for three years or until a permanent solution is found. Johansson intends to submit a legislative proposal for this by the end of June. “A good day,” wrote the Swede on Twitter.
Law enforcement officers benefit from the search
Specifically, it is about images and videos that are already known, for example through previous investigations, and have been provided with a kind of digital fingerprint. US corporations such as Facebook, Google and Microsoft had voluntarily scanned the messages with special filters for such abuse images. These were then passed on to the US Center for Missing and Exploited Children NCMEC, where they were examined and, if necessary, passed on to the authorities. According to its own statements, the Federal Criminal Police Office also benefits from this information. According to NCMEC information on Tuesday, the number of reports in the EU has fallen by 58 percent since December 21.
New is, that according to the Council of EU countries In future, the detection of so-called grooming will also be covered by the transitional regulation. This is the approach of adults to children via the Internet. There had been reservations in the European Parliament against including this because it would require more far-reaching interventions in private communication. The Council of the EU states on Thursday, however, stressed that the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights and the General Data Protection Regulation would be respected and that there would be further safeguards. Online privacy is respected.