Mullvad's campaign, launched on March 3rd, calls on EU policy makers to stop chat control and rethink their stance in regards to the EU Commission's proposal for detecting and prosecuting the sharing of child sexual abuse material (CSAM) via the internet. The EU proposal includes far-reaching surveillance measures such as client-side scanning, which would force online services to scan every chat message and every email that anybody in the European Union ever sends for child sexual abuse material.
This legislation would de facto deprive EU citizens of any privacy on the Internet, it would even undermine encryption and thus weaken the security of all Internet users.
For that reason, the EU plans to scan for CSAM is heavily criticized by cryptography experts, human rights organizations as well as internet activists across Europe.
Most recently, Germany has made its opposition to client-side scanning public. With resistance in Germany, Ireland, Austria and the Netherlands to the EU proposal, a blocking minority is within reach.
Now Mullvad adds to the pressure with their new campaign, which was launched during the Swedish EU Presidency, which started on 1st of January 2023. The timing, thus, couldn't be better.
Mullvad says on their campaign page:
Now is the time for debate and actions
A democratic society is built upon discussions, before law proposals become reality. We started the conversation on the streets of Sweden, during the country’s EU presidency.
Along with the digital campaign, they posted large billboards across Sweden to draw attention to the ongoing legal debate on EU level.
The EU Commission wants to monitor all the citizens of the European union. The law proposal is called #chatcontrol – and now is the time to stop it. We took the debate to the streets of Sweden, during the country’s EU-presidency. Take a look at https://t.co/Dx9cPe1ksq pic.twitter.com/FvqAlQRiig— Mullvad.net (@mullvadnet) March 3, 2023
Opposition to chat control
The digital rights organization EDRi has recently launched the 'Stop Scanning Me' campaign where EU citizens can sign a petition against the EU's surveillance plan.
Sign the Stop Scanning Me campaign now!
Stop chat control
What is chat control?
The Eu proposal on chat control wants to force online services to AI scan every message and every email for possible child grooming and child sexual abuse material (known and unknown). Suspicious messages flagged by the AI will be reported to law enforcement and investigated.
Machine searching for potential child grooming and sexual abuse material is an artificial intelligence (AI) supported procedure. The AI is not flawless and will flag a high number of harmless, private images, which will then be investigated by the police. Experts expect that 10-20% of images reported will be false positives.
This is a huge intrusion into the privacy of millions of innocent citizens.
The European Date Protection Supervisor Wiewiórowski calls it an 'illusion of legality': This type of indiscriminate scanning of private communications "will always be illegal under the Charter of Fundamental Rights (and probably under several national constitutional laws as well)."
The risks of chat control
To many the risks of chat control are negligible. After all, as law-abiding citizens what is there to fear?
But the truth is the opposite: The risks of a surveillance tool like chat control are unlimited.
1. You don't know whether the laws will change.
Jan Penfrat said it perfectly on Mastodon:
"You have nothing to hide until the government suddenly declares your behaviour illegal."
The text on the image he posted is taken from news that broke this week via the Business Insider: "Police are prosecuting abortion seekers using their digital data — and Facebook and Google help them do it".
2. Compromised encryption is not encryption
Once you break encryption to allow access to the 'good guys', the security and privacy promised by encryption is gone.
It is simply not possible to implement an encryption backdoor that can only be used by law enforcement.
This is also nicely illustrated by the best of backdoor fails in history. The truth is: Secret services have tried to undermine encryption before, but whenever they were successful, others were too. Malicious intruders have become very powerful.
We in Europe must not weaken the security backbone that our digital life depends on: Encryption.
Let's stop client-side scanning
Now we, as citizens of Europe and members of the civil society, must put pressure on legislators to oppose legislation that will put every email and every chat message that we send under constant surveillance.
We can stop chat control together!
Share the Mullvad campaign to increase the pressure on politicians.
Call/email your EU representative to make your voice heard: "Stop CSAM scanning. I do not want my personal device to become a surveillance machine!"
Sign the Stop Scanning Me campaign.