The Belgian government is failing to consider human rights in CSA Regulation
Despite the clear warnings, Belgium has taken a position calling on the EU to adopt the CSA regulation as quickly as possible, dismissing the technical problems, and without addressing the serious legal concerns that have been raised.
Prime Minister Alexander De Croo;
Deputy Prime Minister Petra de Sutter;
Minister of the Interior Annelies Verlinden;
Minister of Justice Vincent Van Quickenborne ;
Secretary of State Mathieu Michel.
RE: Serious concerns that the Belgian government is failing to consider human rights in CSA Regulation
We are writing to you as the Belgian civil society organisations la Ligue des droits humains (LDH), Liga voor Mensenrechten, European Digital Rights, and petites singularités, to express our deep concerns at the failure of the Belgian Interior ministry to engage with the human rights concerns of the proposed EU Regulation laying down rules to prevent and combat Child Sexual Abuse (CSA Regulation).
According to lawyers advising European Union (EU) member state governments, measures in this draft law entail “a serious risk that it would be found to compromise the essence of the rights to privacy and data protection”, would undermine encryption, and would allow “general and indiscriminate access to the content of personal communications” by companies.
Such a move would be unprecedented in a democratic society.
The private digital lives of everyone in Europe could be scanned ‘just in case’.
Independent experts advising the European Parliament came to the same conclusion as the Council legal service, adding that “this interference [with human rights] … cannot be justified.”
The EU’s top data protection regulators, including the Belgian Data Protection Authority, issued an assessment that the law is unlikely to protect children, but likely to have serious negative consequences on practically everyone that uses the internet.
Despite these clear warnings, Belgium has taken a position calling on the EU to adopt this regulation as quickly as possible, dismissing the technical problems, and without addressing the serious legal concerns that have been raised.
If this continues, Belgium will fail in its duty to respect, protect and fulfill the fundamental and constitutional rights of Belgian citizens and residents.
As organisations working in the public interest, the internet is vital for us to stay safe knowing that our privacy cannot be arbitrarily interfered with online. Being able to trust in secure, private communications is key to keeping ourselves and the people whose rights we fight for safe.
The crime of child sexual abuse must be dealt with appropriately. Belgium must pursue lawful, effective and evidence-based measures against this crime.
The undersigned organisations call on the government of Belgium to immediately:
- Withdraw from the “Like Minded Group” in the Council of the EU;
- Ensure an official, binding input into Belgium’s official negotiating position on this file for the Minister of Justice, the Minister for Telecommunications, and the Secretary of State for Digitalisation, responsible for the Protection of Privacy;
- Conduct a public inquiry into the potential fundamental rights consequences of this legislative proposal on people in Belgium, and update Belgium’s position accordingly;
- Meet with the undersigned organisations to hear our concerns; and
- Abstaining from agreeing to the CSA Regulation until the serious concerns have been resolved.
The following Belgian-based national and international civil society organisations:
European Digital Rights (EDRi)
la Ligue des droits humains (LDH)
Liga voor Mensenrechten