The EU wants to establish universal client-side scanning for text messages and photos on citizen’s phones. With other words: All cryptography would be useless and hence, nobody would have any privacy in the digital realm anymore.
A proposed EU law would force mobile app developers to upload text you type and images you store to the police and also some NGOs, if the content is deemed “suspicious”. This would mean uploading this content to servers to be analysed by “AI” algorithms before it is encrypted on your device.
This process is also called client-side scanning. I did an episode on why this is a bad idea a few years back. The general gist is: It would make all encyption pointless and thus, privacy wouldn’t exist in the digital realm anymore.
All of this is done in the name of fighting child pornography, as usual. If this law is passed, it would be especially bad for Germans, as our laws on prosecuting child pornography are quite insane at the moment – something I have discussed in the previous episode.
Over the weekend, the controversial Chat Control law has been tabled by the EU DE among hefty criticism from the German government. But my experience in this field tells me they will try again. The Crypto Wars never ended.
In other news, the UK has just passed the “Online Safety Bill”, which might also force service providers to circumvent end-to-end encryption:
Messaging platforms led by Meta’s WhatsApp have opposed a provision in the law that they say could force them to break end-to-end encryption.
The government, however, has said the bill does not ban end-to-end encryption. Instead it will require companies to take action to stop child abuse on their platforms and as a last resort develop technology to scan encrypted messages, it has said. Tech companies have said scanning messages and end-to-end encryption are fundamentally incompatible.
I love how Reuters obviously has no idea what they are talking about. This is a big part of the problem.
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On the forum, Evgeny Kuznetsov said the previous episode reminded him of an anecdote that is sometimes attributed to Andrei Sakharov (which might not be true):
With a team of Soviet engineers, I came to Germany (DDR) to get to know their technologies better. We were visiting a factory, and I was watching a worker operate a complex machine-tool with great skill. A buzz signaled lunchtime, and I was surprised to see the worker simply turn the appliance off and walk away. I made a point to return to that place by the end of the lunchtime, and I witnessed the worker coming back to the machine, moving the cutting head away from the workpiece, removing both the workpiece and the cutting head, that were obviously damaged by stopping the machine while they were in contact, throwing them into the trash bin, installing the new cutting head, and signalling a master to readjust the machine. While waiting for the readjustment, the worker took out his cigarettes and walked out for a smoke. I followed him.
“You look like a person who knows your trade very well”, I said to him as we smoked together. “Obviously, you could have moved the cutting head away from the workpiece before powering the machine down. It would have saved the workpiece made of expensive alloy, it would have saved the expensive cutting head, and would have allowed you to just go on working after the lunch without any need to readjust the machine. I’m sure you know all that, so why did you just stop the machine the way you did?”
“It’s in the manual, I had to have the training and sign the paper. The manual says: when the lunchtime signal or the end-of-shift signal sounds, all machine-tools must immediately be powered off, so that’s what I did”, he said.
“But you do understand that the manual is stupid in this regard, and you save time and money for the factory if you disobey it?”
“I do”, he said. “But if I disobey it, the idiot who wrote it will not be fired, and will keep on writing stupid manuals.”
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