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EU proposes the massive scanning of your WhatsApp chats

Fighting against pedophilia and child sexual abuse is surely a good cause, yes, but without a doubt flagrantly attacking our freedom and privacy will never be the best method to do so.

With WhatsApp and the other instant messaging services and social networks have always had a love-hate relationship, because Despite having revolutionized our lives, it is also true that they invade our privacy in a certain way. sometimes in a consented and conscious way but sometimes without us being aware of it, collecting data and generating online profiles of our habits and interests.

In fact, we have always thought that Internet giants such as Google, Apple, Facebook, or Amazon would strive to protect our data, although we have seen so many cases of leaks, espionage, and hacks that at this point no one will be surprised if we confirm that the European Commission is planning to make a massive scanning of our WhatsApp conversations to fight against pedophilia and child abuse. The bureaucrats of the European Union are fine with massively scanning our WhatsApp chats to fight against pedophilia. the motivation might seem more than reasonable if all this were not quite dangerous, and it is that as the companions of TheVerge the end should never justify the means, and proposing a law like this would allow a permanent surveillance state and would be a serious attack on our privacy. The words of Jan Penfratfrom the digital defense group European Digital Rights (EDRi) were quite harsh, in fact:

This document is the scariest thing I have ever seen. It describes the most sophisticated mass surveillance machinery ever deployed outside of China and the USSR. It is not an exaggeration. This seems like a shameful blanket #surveillance law totally inappropriate for any free democracy.

WhatsApp wants you to know that no one is spying on your message fortunately it’s just a proposal that has been described as impracticable and invasive by all the experts who have commented on it, and that is that the European Commission would require applications like WhatsApp or Facebook Messenger to selectively scan private messages of its users, always in search of pedophile or child sexual abuse material, including a controversial “preparation behavior” that leaves the door open and of which we do not know very well what it would include.

The proposed regulation would establish a series of obligations for the operators, online service providers, app stores, hosting companies, and any communications service provider, through which if these organizations receive a “detection order” from the EU they should scan the messages of the selected users to search for pedophile material or messages that may constitute grooming cues including contacting or soliciting children. It is something similar to what Apple tried last year, although the Cupertino giant’s system limited the margin of error using AI, and in this case, The limitations and how those orders would be focused are not very clear which could be applied massively to groups of individuals:

The proposal opens up the possibility for commands to be targeted, but it certainly doesn’t require it, so it fully opens the door for full and much more widespread surveillance. Ella Jakubowska, EDRi Policy Advisor.

Experts say that such a proposal has no place in a full democracy and free society further confirming that if similar legislation is passed could make the use of end-to-end encryption impossible since requiring a service provider company to scan the messages would imply breaking the encryption in the middle of the communication.

There is no way to do what the EU proposal seeks to do, other than for governments to read and scan user messages on a large scale. Joe Mullin, Principal Analyst at the Electronic Frontier Foundation.

We’ll see how it progresses and where all this ends up given that for now, it is just an EU proposal although given the influence of the European Commission on digital policies, and that making such important changes to the code of services and applications would not be easy, any progress in this direction will undoubtedly affect the whole world and it could open the door to massive espionage by authoritarian governments and other malicious or cybercrime groups. Says Ella Jakubowska that “this whole proposal is based on demanding things that are technically unfeasible, if not impossible”, so let’s hope sanity prevails… We will be attentive! The essential WhatsApp tricks that every user should know.

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