EU officials give a press conference on the Child Rights Package at the EU headquarters in Brussels on May 11, 2022. CPJ joined a statement expressing concern that legislation targeting child sexual abuse could infringe on digital encryption. (AFP/Kenzo Tribouillard)

CPJ joins call expressing concern over EU draft legislation that threatens encryption

On May 12, 2022, the Committee to Protect Journalists joined dozens of free expression groups, technology organizations, and individuals in a statement expressing concern over legislation proposed by the European Commission that could threaten digital encryption.

The legislation, known as the Regulation on Child Sexual Abuse, which the commission proposed on May 11, would compel online platforms to scan user content and metadata for harmful images and so-called “grooming” conversations, according to the statement. Platforms would be required to report such information to government authorities and delete the material.

Such measures would mean that internet platforms would be required to access encrypted content, which is currently unavailable to them. While the signatories expressed a belief that child abuse is a serious crime that should be addressed by EU member states, they wrote that the commission’s approach “would have devastating impacts on the security of communications and on user privacy.” The groups instead recommended that legislation facilitate users’ ability to report abuse material to authorities.

Journalists rely on encryption to evade surveillance and protect their sources, CPJ has found.

The full statement can be found here.