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EU to greenlight Chat Control tomorrow

Warning signs and text:

The Belgian EU Council presidency seems set to have bulk Chat Control searches of our private communications greenlighted by EU governments on Wednesday 19 June. This confirms concerns that the proponents of Chat Control intend to exploit the period shortly after the European Elections during which there is less public attention and the new European Parliament is not yet constituted. If Chat Control is endorsed by Council now, experience shows there is a great risk it will be adopted at the end of the political process.

The good news is that many EU governments have not yet decided whether to go along with this final Belgian push for Chat Control mass surveillance, among them

  • Italy,
  • Finland,
  • the Czech Republic,
  • Sweden,
  • Slovenia,
  • Estonia,
  • Greece and
  • Portugal.

Only Germany, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Austria and Poland are relatively clear that they will not support the proposal, but this is not sufficient for a “blocking minority”.

So you need to take action now. More than ever, the resistance of civil society against Chat Control is crucial. There are many things you can do. The three most important steps are:

  1. Contact your government and tell it to vote against Chat Control on Wednesday, 19 June (find contact details below).
  2. Ring the alarm bells online. You can use campaign sharepics and explanatory videos in all languages. Don’t let the Council presidency get away with pushing this through silently now.
  3. Meet at least one person offline and plan to take action together. For example involve non-governmental organisations, academics, companies or the media in your country, organise open letters or opinion articles in the media or even protests (some protests are currently being organised for Tuesday, 18 June).

Contact your government

It is crucial we demonstrate that civil society is alert now. You can either contact your ministeries of the interior and of justice, or you can contact your government’s ‘permanent representatation’ to the EU. You can find the contact details for all permanent representations on the website „EU Whoiswho“.

Tell your government that the current draft on Chat Control (officially called “Regulation … to prevent and combat child sexual abuse”) is unacceptable. You can find a summary of the draft in this blogpost, and there is critical analysis by European Digital Rights and CDT. Be polite but also resolute and ask them to clearly voice their disagreement with the proposal and to vote against the proposal.

Further, ask them to insist on a formal vote and for the abstentions to be properly counted by the Presidency. (Otherwise, in the Permanent Representatives Committee, sometimes the procedural trick is used not to ask for abstentions and to ignore them).

Timeline

On Thursday, 13 June, ministers of the interior discussed the progress of discussions (find a recording here). The Belgian Council presidency announced that they will present a new compromise proposal afterwards. According to documents leaked by netzpolitik.org, the COREPER 2 meeting in which they will put it to a vote will already take place on Wednesday, 19 June.

So we all need to take action as soon as possible and demand a firm “No” by our governments against the Chat Control proposal to ward off this attempt to greenlight Chat Control in the Permanent Representatives Committee on 19 June. Time is pressing. This may be our last chance to stop Chat Control!

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