No Big Brother in my pocket!

Updated February 2021: Internet companies help to keep the Internet safe by voluntarily scanning uploads for known images of child sexual abuse. But since December 2020, this has become illegal under Europe’s new privacy laws, and the solution that governments propose is a dangerous Trojan Horse—it would legalize private surveillance of all your chats, emails, and photos by secret and untested artificial intelligence (AI) algorithms.

Don’t fall for the false “think of the children” rhetoric. Scanning for known child abuse images has been well tested for only a decade, and could be legalized today without allowing carte blanche private surveillance of everything you do online, using secret and experimental AI tools.

It gets worse: the next generation of smartphones and computers could also contain built-in spyware that can’t be turned off, if the European Commission follows its own leaked recommendations. Prostasia Foundation opposes this move, warning that these measures “undermine the security and safety of adults and children alike, while failing to deter abusers from sharing such images by other means.”

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Governments simply can’t be allowed to get away with this. The fundamental human right of privacy extends to the digital world. That’s why the government can’t read your emails without a warrant. But just like the NSA programs that Edward Snowden uncovered, this new proposal amounts to doing exactly that. The only difference is the gift-wrapping: this time the packaging is “protect kids” rather than “anti-terrorism.”

The Commission attempts to justify this audacious proposal on the basis that files on your device won’t be directly sent to the government, only a unique identifier of them will be. But this is a distinction without a difference. If the solution that the Commission favors is adopted, it means that unique information about every image on your device is being sent to government agents. This puts your privacy at risk, especially because in the hands of repressive governments and other maldoers, it is certain to be misused.

The Commission may claim now that they will only ever be looking for child sexual abuse material (CSAM), but it would be foolish and naïve to believe this.The spying technology that the government is proposing could be used to identify any file on your device, and sooner or later, it will be. Combatting CSAM does not amount to an excuse to conduct blanket surveillance of the population. There are better ways to combat CSAM at the source, that don’t require installing a 24/7 spying device in everyone’s pocket… yet governments are ignoring them.

Sign our petition to the European Commission: NO Big Brother in my pocket!

No Big Brother in my pocket

I am writing to oppose the European Commission's plans to require all Internet-connected devices to scan the content of encrypted communications for the purpose of detecting child abuse images. Although I strongly support the elimination of child abuse images from society, the measures proposed would weaken communications security for millions of innocent users, while doing nothing to prevent child sexual abusers from creating and sharing images using other methods. I ask that the European Parliament take a position against any measures put forward by the Commission that would require the scanning of encrypted communications. Instead, more resources should be put towards the prevention of child sexual abuse in the first place.

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This petition will be presented to the European Parliament with its European signatories only. If you give a European address, you will be sent a link to an official European Parliament website where you can confirm your signature.
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