European Union’s Mass Spying Plan May Be Stopped Before It’s Even Started

( In early May, the European Union had unveiled a plan that would have allowed authorities to monitor digital messages sent within the EU. But the plan got scuttled by Germany over concerns that it violated the privacy of its citizens.

The European Commission announced its “Better Internet for Kids” plan that would have required internet service providers to monitor, report, and remove illegal materials depicting child sexual abuse while actively monitoring all private messaging apps including encrypted messages.

Under the proposed plan, the EU would issue “detection orders” to messaging services like Signal, Facebook Messenger, Whatsapp, and others requiring the companies to scan the private messages of EU users to look for abusive content and messages that might be deemed sexual or geared toward grooming children.

When it was initially announced, privacy and civil rights advocates blasted the European Commission’s plan.

Jan Penfrat from the group European Digital Rights (EDRi) said the EU’s plan was a “shameful general surveillance law entirely unfitting for any free democracy.”

EDRi advisor Ella Jakubowska had warned that these “detection orders” would leave the door open “for much more generalized surveillance.”

And, surprisingly, Germany’s Federal Minister for the Interior, Nancy Faeser, was concerned enough to stop the plan in its tracks.

According to the German outlet Bild, Faeser said allowing the European Commission to spy on the private messages of every citizen is not in keeping with Germany’s position on privacy.

Faeser told the outlet that while she wants to crack down on those who “inflict terrible violence on children,” she said the EU can’t do that by monitoring every encrypted private communication including messages from those who have done nothing wrong. She argued that having access to “every private message without cause” is not “compatible with our freedom rights.”

Faeser argued that if authorities want to fight child abuse, it would be better to search the “darknet platforms.”