After Apple, EU now wants chat apps to scan messages to prevent child abuse

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Europe wants strong laws in place so that chat apps can search users’ messages to prevent child abuse. The European Commission introduced this new legislation to counter the risks posed by social media platforms.

If the bill is passed in the coming weeks, app platforms such as WhatsApp and Telegram will be forced to detect, report and remove child sexual abuse material. Such measures will severely hamper the encryption standards put in place by different platforms. Asking these platforms to identify content based on its nature is a gray area that was hotly debated when Apple announced a similar program for iPhone users.

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“Providers will need to assess and mitigate the risk of misuse of their services and the actions taken should be proportionate to that risk and subject to strong terms and safeguards,” he added.

The European Commission wants to ensure that data is not passed on to law enforcement unless deemed necessary. But the whole prospect of cracking the encryption to make it work is no doubt going to worry privacy experts.

The Commission, in its advocacy for the legislation, says the new rules will help save children from further abuse, prevent the reappearance of material online and bring offenders to justice.

The EU body also outlined its reasons for pushing through such a decision. He pointed out that 85 million photos and videos showing child sexual abuse were reported worldwide in 2021. And the Internet Watch Foundation noted a 64% increase in reports of confirmed child sexual abuse l ‘last year.

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The Commission believes that its hands have been strained by the platforms which have failed to provide adequate protection to children. The EU has called for “clear rules” “with strong conditions and safeguards” to effectively tackle the misuse of online services for the sexual abuse of children.

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Given that Apple was forced to withdraw its own scanning program after a backlash, it remains to be seen whether the EU reacts similarly or moves forward with its plans.

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