The Irish Council for Civil Liberties (ICCL) and Digital Rights Ireland (DRI) have welcomed a recent intervention by the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Justice on a proposed EU law aimed at preventing child-sexual abuse.
The organisations said that the so-called 'ChatControl' regulation could mandate the monitoring of virtually all public and private digital communications.
Last month, the Oireachtas committee expressed concerns about several elements of the current proposed regulation.
‘Burden’ on Ireland
“The committee believes that the proposed legislation is unprecedented in requiring indiscriminate scanning of digital communications and cloud storage, threatening the safety, privacy, and freedom of expression of every citizen,” its report said.
The committee also expressed concern that the plans would “significantly undermine” the security of communication, and would place a particular burden on Irish authorities, due to the presence of the headquarters of several large technology companies.
It also argued that such a proposal would “inundate” police with “false positives”, diverting resources away from victims.
Olga Cronin (surveillance and human rights policy officer, ICCL) said that everyone accepted the European Commission’s good intentions to tackle what she described as “a heinous crime”.
She added, however, that mandating the mass scanning of messages and emails across the EU to combat a deeply complex social problem was disproportionate.
Dr TJ McIntyre (chair of DRI and associate professor in UCD School of Law) said that there was concern across Europe about the plan.
“For example, the German Bundestag’s Digital Affairs Committee has held a hearing showing that it presents significant threats to fundamental rights,” he stated, calling for the proposal to be “withdrawn and rethought”.