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Dating apps and video conferencing could be monitored in new EU data rules – EURACTIV.com

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Dating apps and video conferencing tools could be part of new EU efforts to monitor online communications with the aim of eradicating child pornography, internal documents obtained by EURACTIV reveal.

In a series of private exchanges between MEPs and Commission services, the EU executive attempted to clarify a number of concerns related to the proposed rules that would allow online communication services to be vetted for content. child pornography.

In December, the EU’s telecommunications code was broadened to offer protections under the block’s ePrivacy directive, meaning that messaging platforms and services would not be able to crawl content. downloaded online looking for potentially abusive content.

However, in an attempt to stifle the dissemination of such material online, the Commission introduced a temporary derogation from these safeguards, which would again allow online messaging services to monitor certain online communications.

MEPs asked the Commission to clarify precisely which online messaging services could fall within the scope of certain “number independent interpersonal electronic communications services” (NI-ICS), which would be subject to the derogation.

In an exchange, the Commission is in a hurry to know if it considers “dating apps”, such as Tinder, Bumble and OkCupid, as part of the new rules. The response was that while the assessments should be done on a case-by-case basis, “the communication features of dating applications can constitute NI-ICS, unless they are just ancillary features.”

In addition, in another paper From November last year, the Commission is asked whether “videoconferencing services, including those used for medical consultations” should fall under the new measures. The most used video conferencing tools today include applications such as Skype and Zoom.

While the Commission said that it is’ ultimately the Court of Justice that will interpret ‘the scope as defined by the final text, it also said that as far as videoconferencing tools’ allow a direct interpersonal and interactive exchange of information via electronic communications networks between a finite number of people, it can be said that they constitute an interpersonal electronic communications service (independent of number).

The EU executive also said that “personal data processed under the exemption provided for in the proposed regulation must comply with the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)”.

However, the Commission added that it “does not take a position on the compliance of current voluntary practices of operators with the GDPR, which falls under the competence of national data protection authorities (DPAs)”.

At the time of writing, the Commission has not responded to EURACTIV’s request for a response.

Interinstitutional negotiations and strong opinions

In December, the European Parliament’s Civil Liberties Committee endorsed its position on the plans, allowing web-based communications services to voluntarily continue to detect child sexual abuse online. MEPs stressed, however, that certain “audio communications” should be removed from the provisions.

Negotiations between representatives of the European Parliament and the Council of the EU are taking place this month, with Home Affairs Commissioner Ylva Johansson, Parliament’s rapporteur for the dossier, MP Birgit Sippel, and the Portuguese ambassador to the EU on behalf of the EU Council meeting on January 26, after a series of technical meetings.

Further on, there were strong maneuvers on both sides of the debate.

Last November, the European Data Protection Supervisor published an opinion on the drafts, noting that “the measures envisaged by the Proposal would constitute an interference with the fundamental rights to privacy and data protection of all users of very popular electronic communications services, such as instant messaging platforms and applications.

For their part, law enforcement groups called for the EU to adopt measures to monitor online communications about child pornography.

Earlier this month, representatives of the “Five Eyes” security alliance, made up of the Home Affairs, Home Affairs and Security Ministers of the United States, Australia, Canada and New Zealand have published a declaration affirming that “the ePrivacy directive, applied without derogation, will facilitate the sexual exploitation and sexual abuse of children without detection”.

Closer to home, in November, the European Cybercrime Task Force (EUCTF) – made up of experts from Europol, Eurojust and the Commission – urged Parliament to support the temporary derogation from the ePrivacy directive, to help “fight child sexual abuse online”.

[Edited by Zoran Radosavljevic]