APPS like WhatsApp and Facebook will be forced to scan messages for child sexual abuse material under newly proposed rules.
The European Commission has proposed a regulation that would require software developers to find and remove the material.
The move has sparked outrage from some privacy groups, who say it could endanger people’s communications.
Businesses that don’t follow the rules face fines of up to 6 percent of their annual income or global sales.
The EU said its proposal, announced on Wednesday, aims to replace the current system of voluntary detection and reporting by companies.
This system has proved insufficient to protect children.
The union cited the more than 1 million reports of child sexual abuse in the Block of 27 in 2020.
The COVID-19 pandemic is a factor in the 64 percent increase in such reports in 2021 compared to the previous year.
In addition, 60 percent of child sexual abuse material worldwide is hosted on EU servers.
“The proposed rules introduce an obligation for relevant online service providers to assess the risk of misuse of their services for the dissemination of child sexual abuse material or for the promotion of children (grooming),” the commission said in a statement Explanation.
Companies must then report and remove known and new images and videos, as well as grooming cases.
An EU Child Sexual Abuse Center will be set up to act as a center of expertise and forward reports to the police.
The rules apply to hosting services and interpersonal communication services such as messaging services, app stores and internet access providers.
The Commission’s proposal could jeopardize end-to-end encryption and open the floodgates to authoritarian surveillance tactics, lobby group European Digital Rights said.
Meta subsidiary WhatsApp expressed the same concerns.
“It’s incredibly disappointing to see that a proposed EU regulation on the internet doesn’t protect end-to-end encryption,” said Will Cathcart, head of WhatsApp, in a tweet.
“It is important that no action taken undermines the end-to-end encryption that protects the security and privacy of billions of people, including children,” said a Meta spokesperson.
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https://www.thesun.ie/tech/8786220/whatsapp-warning-texts-scanned-law/ Billions of texts have to be “scanned” according to the new law