Australian Home Affairs Minister takes issue with EU Electronic Communications Code
On December 21, 2020, a new communications code was introduced in the European Union with hopes of harmonising the legal framework for electronic communications. However, the Australian government and governments from Canada, New Zealand, the UK and the US have unveiled undesired, unintended consequences of the new code. The code allows a broader definition of electronic communications services, leading for new over-the-top providers and other services to fall within the definition of the code. Peter Dutton, the Australian Minister for Home Affairs stated this would unintentionally make it easier for criminals to abuse children over the internet.
The new code makes it illegal to use the necessary tools required to detect child sexual abuse material on online platforms and services. Dutton does not agree that user privacy should come at the expense of children’s safety. He urges the European Parliament to act and except certain technologies from the new code and preserve these companies’ ability to prevent child sexual abuse online. The code counteracts the measures taken in both the Voluntary Principles to counter Online Sexual Exploitation and Abuse from March 2020 and the End-to-End Encryption and Public Safety statement in October of 2020 as the five countries have worked to protect children online with the help of tech companies.