EU mulls expanding digital surveillance over every citizen – media — RT World News

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Brussels reportedly wants to access “backdoors” into anything from messaging apps to online home assistants

The EU Commission is allegedly considering a major expansion of surveillance practices in the bloc that could potentially affect every single EU citizen, German t-online news media outlet reported on Tuesday, citing confidential draft recommendations it had seen.

A 28-page document, reportedly drawn up by a group of experts on behalf of Brussels, lists a total of 42 suggestions of possible tighter surveillance measures in what the media outlet described as “unprecedented privacy limitation.”

The paper, titled: “Recommendations from the High-Level Group on Access to Data for Effective Law Enforcement” demands app developers create “backdoors” for the law enforcement agencies to get to any content they need. The investigators should be able to circumvent end-to-end encryption in messenger services like WhatsApp or Telegram using some sort of a “general key” provided by the developers, t-online reported. Companies that would fail to meet such demands should face penalties, the document reportedly states.

The list of suggestions is not limited to messaging apps, though. The proposed changes also target the Internet of Things, calling for “greater standardization” of various home apps and devices, including “all forms of connectivity.” The measure is expected to particularly affect home assistants like Google Home, Alexa or the Apple assistant as well as anything up to smart refrigerators, allowing authorities to obtain data collected by such devices.

The paper also calls for the introduction of data retention, according to t-online. A data-retention regulation requires providers of telecommunications and Internet services to store the traffic data on all its users for a specified period of time and to be able to pass them to law enforcement if needed. Such data could include IP addresses, phone contacts or location data.

Germany’s Federal Administrative Court – the nation’s highest judicial body ruling on administrative law cases – had previously classified groundless and indiscriminate data retention to be a violation of EU law and banned it in Germany. Now, this may change if the EU Commission follows through on these recommendations, t-online warned.

The document reportedly justified the proposed mass surveillance approach with the need to “ensure effective prosecution” of cases related to organized crime and terrorism activities and in particular to identified terrorist-attack plots at an early stage.

A digital expert, Anja Hirschel, who is also a member of the German Pirate Party advocating digital privacy rights, warned that such plans represent “an unprecedented… leap right into a fully monitored society.” “Everything we do, where we go and who we communicate with, will be visible at any moment and without any barriers,” she told t-online.

Brussels has not commented on the report about the draft surveillance recommendations.

Last year, a Dutch MEP Sophie in ‘t Veld already warned that EU governments were using “totalitarian methods” to spy on journalists. She was commenting on allegations that some EU nations were using the Israeli Pegasus malware to surveil an editor of an EU-based Russian news site.

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