The European Commission’s plan to inspect all Chat messages and other traffic of European citizens is potentially unlawful and is likely to be annulled by judges, the European Council’s Legal Service said in a leaked legal opinion. According to the service, the plan may infringe on essential rights, such as the right to a private life and the right to the protection of personal data. Something that critics have been warning about since the beginning.
The European Commission has always claimed that the scanplan embraces a proportionate and targeted approach and is provided with sufficient safeguards. The Legal Service sees it quite differently and argues that requiring services to inspect the communications of all their users is tantamount to general and random monitoring, rather than targeted and proportional monitoring, as European law requires.
The legal opinion further warns that the scanplan leads to a “surveillance trawl” in all EU member states that affects all interpersonal communication services operating in the EU. Given the arbitrary nature of the scanning obligation, this would constitute a serious infringement of fundamental rights, the legal advice continues. The legal service therefore does not think that the scan plan will pass a judicial test.
“The European Council Service confirms in no uncertain terms what other legal experts, human rights activists, investigators, abuse victims and child protection organizations have been warning about for a long time: requiring mail and chat services to search all private messages for illegal material and report them to the police violates the right to confidentiality of correspondence,” said MEP Patrick Breyer.
He calls on EU member states to stop the” dystopian China-like chat control plan ” and protect fundamental rights. Despite the legal advice, Belgium, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania and Spain would support the scan plan, The Guardian reports.