Strong end-to-end encryption is an essential part of a secure and trustworthy Internet. It protects us every time we make an online transaction, when we share medical information or when we interact with friends and family. But now that fundamental technology is being threatened by the European Commission.
The European Union’s new regulation intending to fight child sexual abuse online will require Internet platforms — including end-to-end encrypted messaging apps like Signal and WhatsApp — to “detect, report and remove” images of child sexual abuse shared on their platforms. In order to do this, however, platforms would have to automatically scan every single message — a process known as “client-side scanning.”
But not only is this a gross violation of privacy, there’s no evidence that the technology exists to do this effectively and safely, without undermining the security provided by end-to-end encryption. And while the proposed regulation is well-intentioned, it will result in weakening encryption and making the Internet less secure.