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Privacy and Surveillance

The protection of personal data and privacy is an area where the European Union is a global leader. In 2022, the US is looking at how to implement privacy legislation for online platforms, and the EU's General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is what they look to.

I wrote about the legislative journey of the GDPR in my book The Closing of the Net. The rapporteur was German Green lawyer, MEP Jan Albrecht. He had a tough time and ultimately produced a compromise that was not entirely satisfactory for either industry of citizen advocates.

But the undercurrent to privacy policy is all about surveillance, and nowhere more so, sadly, than in the UK. In 2022, the UK wants to force private platform providers to break encryption on communications between users. The policy battles around privacy did not stop with GDPR. They will continue for many years to come.

If you are interested in data protection policy and the genesis of the GDPR, you may like my book The Closing of the Net which discusses how the policy was influenced by State and non-State actors.

Meta's decision to encrypt private chats by default is timed to coincide with a period of political uncertainty before Parliamentary elections in the EU and UK. This article explores why that timing matters. 

Read more: Meta rolls out encryption as political headwinds ease

End-to-end encrypted services out of scope
Targetting of individuals or groups only with reasonable suspicion and judicial warrant plus judicial oversight of hash lists
No mandatory age verification for app stores and communications services

The European Parliament's Civil Liberties Committee has today formally adopted a political compromise on its proposed new law to tackle child sexual abuse online. In legislative terms, it is a significant breakthrough on this very sensitive issue that had risked becoming dead-locked. This new proposal offers a new way forward that protects children and privacy. It has the potential to be agreed by a wide range of stakeholders.

**UPDATE 22 NOVEMBER  This position has been formally adopted by the European Parliament. Negotiations with the Council of Ministers can begin.**

Read more: EU law set for new course on child online safety

A political agreement in the European Parliament hopes to resolve the heated discourse over end-to-end encryption and protecting children online. It's a pragmatic way forward that aims to both safeguard against child abuse and maintain confidentiality of communications. It's not yet over the line but from a human rights perspective, it's heading in the right direction.

Read more: MEPs reach political agreement to protect children and privacy

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About Iptegrity

Iptegrity.com is the website of Dr Monica Horten. I am an  independent policy advisor: online safety, technology and human rights. In April 2024, I was appointed as an independent expert on the Council of Europe Committee of Experts on online safety and empowerment of content creators and users. I am a published author, and post-doctoral scholar. I hold a PhD from the University of Westminster, and a DipM from the Chartered Institute of Marketing. I cover the UK and EU. I'm a former tech journalist, and an experienced panelist and Chair. My media credits include the BBC, iNews, Times, Guardian and Politico.

Iptegrity.com is made available free of charge for non-commercial use. Please link back and attribute Dr Monica Horten.  Contact me to use any of my content for commercial purposes.