France considers approval of European chat control plan France considers approval of European chat control plan
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France considers approval of European chat control plan

The latest proposal mandates user consent for monitoring messages on all communication apps, including those with end-to-end encryption.

France is considering approving a new proposal to monitor all chat messages from European citizens. If this proposal is adopted, the chat app Signal has announced it will exit the EU. With France’s backing, a European majority in favor of the plan seems likely. Netzpolitik (German) has reported this development based on internal documents.

A few years prior, the European Commission proposed the idea of checking all citizens’ chat messages. The European Parliament, however, did not support this and instead put forward its own proposal. The EU member states have yet to reach a unified stance, but Belgium, the current EU President, has introduced various proposals to sway the member states.

The latest proposal includes all communication apps, even those employing end-to-end encryption. Users would be required to give consent for their messages to be monitored. Those who do not consent would lose the ability to send photos, videos, images, and URLs, though audio communication would remain unaffected. Additionally, chat monitoring would not apply to accounts used for national security, investigations, or military purposes.

The Belgian proposal also aims to detect unknown misused material using ‘AI technology.’ Experts have consistently warned that this approach could lead to numerous false positives, wrongly identifying individuals as senders of abusive content. Currently, a ‘blocking minority’ is preventing the proposal’s adoption, but France is now considering giving its approval.

Germany, the Netherlands, Poland, Austria, and Luxembourg have deemed the new proposal unacceptable. Several other countries are still evaluating it. “An agreement has not yet been reached due to the blocking minority of at least four states, representing at least 35 percent of the EU population, that cannot agree,” Netzpolitik reported. This blocking minority has primarily included Germany and Poland, but now, according to internal documents, France is showing more support for the proposal and is willing to help broker a compromise.

Patrick Breyer, an MEP for the Pirate Party, expressed deep concern that the EU countries, previously critical of the plans, are now showing support for a proposal that remains fundamentally unchanged from its earlier versions. Breyer worries that if member states adopt such a radical stance, the European Parliament might abandon its position during negotiations and agree to a compromise that jeopardizes online security for everyone.

Signal President Meredith Whittaker is vehemently opposed to the plan. “Make no mistake: we [Signal] will leave the EU market rather than compromise our privacy commitments. If this proposal is adopted and enforced against us, we will be forced to make this choice,” she stated on X. “It’s surveillance wine in security bottles.”