Analysis of private communications in the fight against child sexual abuse online


  • TJ McIntyre


  • Brendan Van Alsenoy
  • Cathrin Bauer-Bulst
  • Diego Naranjo
  • Mallory Knodel

Organisation: KU Leuven

Room: Online 1

Timing: 16:00 - 17:15 on 29 January 2021

The European Electronic Communications Code (ECCC) expands the notion of electronic communication services. As a result, services such as web-mail, voice over IP, instant messaging platforms and applications fall under the scope of the ePrivacy Directive as of 20 Dec 2020. To ensure that providers of online communications services can continue detecting and reporting child sexual abuse online, the European Commission has proposed an interim Regulation allowing voluntary scanning of private communication channels through “well-established” technologies. The interim Regulation attempts to provide safeguards for privacy and protection of personal data, however the instrument raises numerous concerns about its legality and proportionality.

• What technologies are currently used to scan for CSAM (image matching, text, speech analysis for child solicitation)?
• Is scanning of private communication a necessary and proportionate measure?
• What is a legal basis for the processing of personal data occurring during such scanning?
• Do the proposed safeguards ensure effective protection of the right to privacy and data protection?


TJ McIntyre

University College Dublin (IE)

Dr TJ McIntyre is Lecturer in Law, University College Dublin where he specialises in issues involving information technology law and civil liberties. He qualified as a barrister in the Honorable Society of King's Inns, Dublin where he achieved the Antonia O'Callaghan Prize for Advocacy, and was later admitted as a solicitor by the Law Society of Ireland. He is a member of the New York Bar. He is chairman of the civil liberties NGO Digital Rights Ireland and regularly appears in the national and international media discussing issues of law and technology. Since 2010 he has been the Irish national expert on information society and data protection issues for the EU Fundamental Rights Agency research network (FRANET).


Brendan Van Alsenoy

European Data Protection Supervisor (EDPS) (EU)

Dr. Brendan Van Alsenoy is Deputy Head of Unit "Policy & Consultation" at the European Data Protection Supervisor (EDPS). He previously worked as a Legal Advisor and Acting Head of Unit at the Belgian Data Protection Authority. Prior to that, he worked as a legal researcher at the KU Leuven Centre for IT & IP Law, with a focus on data protection and privacy, intermediary liability and trust services. In 2012, he worked at the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) to assist in the revision of the 1980 OECD Privacy Guidelines.

Cathrin Bauer-Bulst

EU Commission (EU)

Cathrin Bauer-Bulst is head of unit for the fight against cybercrime and child sexual abuse in DG Migration and Home Affairs of the European Commission. Her unit develops legislative proposals and policy and coordinates EU efforts in these areas, playing a leading role in the current negotiations of international instruments on cybercrime such as the Second Additional Protocol to the Budapest Convention and the new UN process. She co-chairs the Commission's informal task force on electronic evidence and the Governmental Advisory Committee Working Group on Public Safety issues within ICANN.

Diego Naranjo


Diego joined EDRi in October 2014, where he works as Senior Policy Advisor. Diego Naranjo is a qualified lawyer and co-founder of the Andalusian human rights organisation Grupo 17 de Marzo and he owns a Master's degree in human rights from the European Inter-University Centre for Human Rights and Democratisation in Venice. Diego advocates for the protection of citizens' fundamental rights and freedoms online in the fields of data protection, surveillance and copyright. In the past, Diego gained experience in the International Criminal Tribunal for former Yugoslavia, the EU Fundamental Rights Agency (FRA) and the Free Software Foundation Europe. Previously to all that he worked as a lawyer in Spain.

Mallory Knodel


Mallory Knodel is the Chief Technology Officer for the Center for Democracy & Technology. She is the co-chair of the Human Rights Protocol Considerations research group of the Internet Research Task Force and a chairing advisor to the Freedom Online Coalition. Mallory takes a human rights, people-centred approach to technology implementation and cybersecurity policy advocacy. Originally from the US, having lived extensively in Nairobi before relocating to DC, she has worked with grassroots organisations around the world in Bolivia, France, Palestine and the UK. She has used free software throughout her professional career and considers herself a public interest technologist.