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.”
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!