Panel: Critical as existential: The EU’s CSA Regulation and the future of the internet

Whether the EU’s proposed CSA Regulation (CSAR) is passed or rejected will have a critical impact on the security of internet infrastructure and the essence of online privacy, both in Europe and around the world. The problem this law seeks to tackle – child abuse online – should be critically-important for our society. Yet the methods that the law puts forward have received serious criticism from digital human rights groups and data protection experts.

When these critical elements collide, the wrong approach will not only be dangerous, but counter-productive. Unfortunately, some framings have positioned the debate as a zero-sum game: that child protection is worth the risks of undermining secure digital communications. This assertion misses the point that keeping children safe online requires having robust and secure channels, resisting generalised surveillance, and building – rather than undermining – public trust.

This panel frames the criticism of the CSAR as as a direct response to its ability to drastically invade private digital communications, dissolve online anonymity and censor the public-facing internet. In turn, the ability of each of us to be critical – of our governments, of powerful corporations – will be dramatically curtailed.

This panel will explore alternative visions for a genuinely rights-respecting internet, including feminist and technologist perspectives. We point to the decades and centuries of feminist, antiracist and worker uprisings that at first seemed ‘radical’ or ‘marginal’, to demonstrate that critical voices are in fact central to the survival of vibrant democracies and rights-respecting societies.

Particularly thinking about the ramifications of this proposed Regulation around the world, we want to discuss the idea of our collective criticism as being critical to protecting critical digital infrastructure. Out of this understanding, we hope to move the debate more towards a positive vision of critical digital infrastructure as something that can provide safety and security.



Ella Jakubowska – Senior Policy Advisor, European Digital Rights (EDRi), @ellajakubowska1


  • Corinna Vetter – Advocacy Lead, Superrr Lab, twitter: @corinnave
  • Elina Eickstädt – Chaos Computer Club, twitter: @khaleesicodes, mastodon:
  • Brendan van Alsenoy – Deputy Head of Unit, Policy and Consultation, European Data Protection Supervisor (EDPS), twitter: @EU_EDPS