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Mounting pressure on NL government to reject client-side scanning

The Dutch Minister of Justice and Security is currently negotiating a European proposal that would severely undermine the confidentiality of our online communications. Despite meeting a lot of resistance, the minister continues to support the proposal. Who are those organizations and experts the minister is not listening to?

But first this

You might not be expecting so many organizations and people to object to a proposal that aims to combat the online sexual abuse and exploitation of children. Surely no one could be against protecting kids from getting hurt? The objections stem from the fact that the measures the European Commission is proposing just won't work. They won't protect kids from harm. On the contrary: one could argue that wasting all this time on measures that won't do the job, rather than investing in known remedies, is actually harming the people that need us most.

Resistance to the bill

Now on with that list of people and organizations the minister is choosing to ignore:

  • On two separate occasions, Dutch parliament has issued clear instructions not to support any European legislation that would restrict the use of encryption or that would allow client-side device scanning.
  • The government's principal advisory body on the subject, the National Rapporteur on Trafficking in Human Beings and Sexual Violence against Children, has stated that it is not currently possible to make an informed decision about the bill.
  • The pioneering Dutch child sexual abuse hotline has come out repeatedly against the bill and client-side scanning in particular.
  • During a round table in Parliament on October 11, 2023, four leading Dutch academics all expressed grave concerns were client-side scanning to be made mandatory, alongside a conviction that the measure will not be effective.
  • Dutch civil society, (big) tech companies and academicsView all the signatories joined forces and called on the minister to promote encryption.
  • Following revelations that the European Commission has been working closely together with companies that stand to gain financially if the European bill is passed, Bits of FreedomView the press release sent the minister an urgent letter requesting her to refrain from supporting the European proposal.
  • The Legal Service of the Council of the European Union (the representation of the governments of the member states) considers the proposed measures to be far-reaching and potentially in violation of human right standards.
  • Numerous international bodies, such as the United Nations, have been unusually vocal in their criticism.

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