Total breach of privacy vs. child protection: the search for compromise


On Friday, the 2nd of June, the Office of MEP Yana Toom (Centre Party/Renew Europe) in cooperation with the European Parliament Information Office in Estonia will host a discussion “Protecting Children Online: Between Safety and Privacy”.

In May 2022, the European Commission proposed a draft regulation to prevent and track Child Sexual Abuse Material (CSAM). The regulation is intended to fight the distribution of such materials and grooming (the process of creating a trusting relationship with a child for the purpose of subsequent sexual exploitation). Such crimes are a major problem, so the European Commission proposed a very radical means of combating them: mandatory monitoring of chats for all providers of e-mail, chats and instant messengers.

According to opponents of the proposed regulation of CSAM, the implementation of the regulation will lead to surveillance of all online private correspondence, including encrypted communication channels, and this violates the individual's right to privacy. If the information obtained in this way falls into the wrong hands, the consequences can be dire. Also, since scanning of this kind inevitably relies on artificial intelligence, it is more than likely that there will be errors that can lead to disasters.

The discussion will be held by: Google: Milan Zubicek, Head of Content Cluster, EU Institutions at Google; Ksenia Nowicka, Public Policy Associate Manager at Meta; Ella Jakubowska, Senior Policy Advisor at European Digital Rights (EDRi); Henrik Trasberg, Legal Adviser on New Technologies and Digitalisation at Ministry of Justice of Estonia; Maarja Kärson, advisor, Department of Family Wellbeing and Safe Relationships at Ministry of Social Affairs; and Kerli Valner, “Smartly on the web” project communication coordinator at the Estonian Union for Child Welfare.

The discussion under the auspices of Renew Europe is moderated by MEP Yana Toom. The event will be held on June 2 from 10.00 to 12.00 at the European Parliament Information Office in Estonia (Tallinn, Rävala 4, conference room). The discussion will be conducted in English.

“The sexualization of children is a very acute and painful topic, and every normal person would like all such crimes to be identified and punished,” says Yana Toom. “At the same time, most of us will certainly be against our personal network correspondence being monitored first by artificial intelligence, and then, possibly, by people. Is some kind of compromise possible here, and if so, which one, will be discussed by the experts at the panel under the auspices of Renew Europe.”

See also: "RENEW EUROPE Background for 2 June 2023 conference Protecting Children Online: Between Safety and Privacy" (pdf).

Foto: Marco Verch Professional Photographer / Flickr (CC BY 2.0)