European Union Wants All Emails and Private Chats Automatically Checked for “Suspicious Content”

We’ve got to do this because of coronavirus or Donald Trump or the Holocaust or whatever.

There is no room for freedom in democracy. These are our values.


Members of the European Parliament are welcoming plans from the European Commission to make email, messaging, and chat providers search through users’ private conversations and report “illegal material”, according to Patrick Breyer MEP.

Breyer, a German digital rights activist who represents the German Pirate Party in the EU’s parliament, revealed that fellow MEPs had voted overwhelmingly to “[welcome] the Commission’s intention to oblige e-mail, messaging and chat providers to search all private messages for allegedly illegal material and report to the police” on social media.

#ChatControl, as Breyer and other campaigners call the proposed measures, “will mean privatised mass surveillance and the end of digital secrecy of correspondence,” he warned.

Going over the policy in more detail on his website, Breyer, who qualified as a Doctor of Law at Goethe University Frankfurt, alleges that “The EU wants to have all private chats, messages, and emails automatically searched for suspicious content, generally and indiscriminately” under the guise of tackling child pornography.

“There is no requirement of a court order or an initial suspicion for searching your messages. It occurs always and automatically,” he warns, adding that “If an algorithms classifies the content of a message as suspicious, your private or intimate photos may be viewed by staff and contractors of international corporations and police authorities” — a message boiled down to “The police are watching you sexting!” in campaign material.

Breyer claims that “chat control algorithms are known to flag completely legal vacation photos of children on a beach, for example” — potentially resulting in innocent citizens being falsely maligned and investigated.

Well, you really shouldn’t have to get to the point where you’re arguing that innocents might get caught up in the dragnet of searching through everyone’s private information. You should be able to argue, on principle, that it is morally wrong to allow the government to invade everyone’s privacy like this, and that people must have a certain amount of freedom, even if that results in some criminals getting away with crimes.

Once you can’t argue that, you’re basically doomed.

But there is no real way to argue “but we should have freedom” when you live in a democracy.