Belgium wants to ban Signal

A new legislative proposal in Belgium is apparently intended to ban messengers such as Signal: services are to be forced to collect data.

Last week, the Belgian government published a new bill effectively banning messengers like Signal. In this more than 800 page long text, among other things, the Belgian version of data retention is to be reintroduced. However, the proposed law speaks of “specific” situations in which all of the population’s data may be collected.

These include, for example: a terrorist attack that happens close to the border and the suspects are still at large . Or storage related to a specific location that may be relevant to terrorism. However, these broad assumptions make it more than likely that a large part of the Belgian population was the victim of such a measure.

New legislative proposal requires registration of Signal

So far in Belgium, companies like Signal have not been obliged to store data that they do not request themselves. Only the data that companies collect should also be subject to storage requirements. This should change with the new legislative proposal. In addition, it is said that in future the providers should keep data about the users for a longer period of time, even if this is not necessary for the provider itself. Since this is exactly what Signal does not want, they are very close to a possible ban.

EU relevance for Belgian legislation

The problem in this case is that Belgian legislation often serves as a model for legislation in other EU countries. When it came to collecting data, European governments were never above refusal. And if Signal continues to refuse to collect data about its users, it does not fit into the plans of the state authorities.

Signal’s path so far has been effective and honest: Signal only stores what it really needs. This includes when the user created the account and when they were last connected to the network. Other data about the user is simply not necessary for Signal. In addition, no data has to be protected against possible attackers. This is what makes the service so important and why this draft law is so harmful.

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