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Cybersecurity & Standards, European Policy, Free Expression

EU Tech Policy Brief: October 2020 Recap

This is the October 2020 recap issue of CDT’s monthly EU Tech Policy Brief. It highlights some of the most pressing technology and internet policy matters under debate in Europe, the U.S., and internationally, and gives CDT’s perspective on them.

Thursday: ‘What should the EU do to better protect democracy in the digital age?’

On 12 November, the Centre for Democracy & Technology Europe and the UN Human Rights Regional Office for Europe will jointly hold a high-level online panel discussion on the need to ensure that international human rights law is at the core of the European Democracy Action Plan and the Digital Services Act. The event brings together high-level speakers, including Věra Jourová, the Vice-President of the European Commission and Commissioner for Values and Transparency, and Irene Khan, the UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression, to talk about how upcoming EU legislation could help better protect European democracy. To view the full list of speakers and register for the event, click here.

CDTEU event, “What Should the EU Do to Better Protect Democracy in the Digital Age?”, on November 12, 2020, from 16:30 – 18:00 PM CET. Link to register.

CDT Europe comments on the European Parliament’s IMCO, JURI, and LIBE Digital Services Act reports

On October 20, the European Parliament adopted three reports on the topic of the Digital Services Act (DSA). The reports represent an important step forward in the debate over what the DSA will look like, receiving support by the majority of voters and indicating a strong interest in dealing with the contemporary challenges linked to digital services. The rapporteurs are MEPs Alex Agius Saliba, Tiemo Wölken and Kris Peeters in the IMCO, JURI and LIBE committees, respectively. The first two reports were adopted as a “legislative initiative procedure”, meaning that the European Commission will need to take them into consideration in its forthcoming legislative DSA proposal. “The Parliament is lending its support to crucial free expression safeguards such as recommending a binding notice-and-action framework, maintaining a ban on general monitoring of users, and calling to allow people to have stronger control over the use of their data,” said Iverna McGowan, Director of CDT’s Europe Office, in response to the vote. For more information, read our related press release.

For more in-depth analysis on the European Parliament reports, see our detailed initial observations. To view CDT’s comprehensive position towards the DSA, read our response to the European Commission’s consultation.

CDT joins civil society open letter on defending privacy while preventing criminal acts

CDT partnered with other civil society organizations on a letter to the European Commission reminding it to protect fundamental rights such as privacy and free expression, as it pursues initiatives to address crimes including the spread of child sexual abuse material (CSAM). The letter stresses that the signatories share the Commission’s goal to protect children. Child sexual abuse is a serious crime with extremely serious consequences for victims, and all its online and offline forms must be effectively eliminated. The letter argues that effective measures to achieve that goal may be found outside of technology, ranging from public education and victim support to improved cross-border police cooperation. Among other things, the letter calls on the Commission to reject recommendations in a “Technical Solutions” paper submitted to the Commission to help it form a policy response to the spread of CSAM on communications services encrypted end-to-end. It points out that short-listed “solutions” giving law enforcement officials exceptional access to encrypted content are fundamentally at odds with the essential feature of end-to-end encryption, which is that only the sender and the recipient can access the content.

CDT publishes new report addressing the use of AI in benefits determinations

As part of CDT’s work on algorithmic fairness, our Privacy & Data team published a new report addressing the use of AI in benefits determinations in the U.S. The report and related webinar is part of CDT’s broader effort to center disability issues in technology policy, including examining the use of AI in benefits determinations, hiring, policing, education, and other settings.

CDT Europe Director, Iverna McGowan, speaks at the EU Security Summit

Iverna McGowan spoke at the EU Security Summit on a panel which showcased the Global Encryption Coalition (GEC). Encryption safeguards the personal security of billions of people and the national security of nations around the world. The Global Encryption Coalition promotes and defends encryption in key countries and multilateral gatherings where it is under threat. CDT Europe recalled the importance that encryption plays in safeguarding human rights defenders and investigative journalists.

Join us in December for the fourth annual Future of Speech Online event

Who do encryption technologies protect, why are these technologies under threat, and what does an internet with human rights and secure communication at its core look like? At the fourth annual Future of Speech Online event, held virtually this year in light of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, we will explore key technical concepts in the encryption policy debates, the encrypted communications tools that underpin social movements and the work of journalists, and possible approaches to moderating content in end-to-end encrypted systems. We will also discuss the implications of restrictive national anti-encryption laws for the open, global internet, and the myriad protections that secure communications technologies provide. Each day the week of December 7, we will host a session on a different topic from 11:00 am-12:00 pm ET. To register or see more information on speakers, click here.