Well, the EU has just destroyed Internet Privacy. This is going to have a major chilling effect. It is being touted as a win for combatting child porn and trafficking, but that's just the excuse.
In today’s vote, 537 Members of the European Parliament approved Chatcontrol, with 133 voting against and 20 abstentions. According to police data, in the vast majority of cases, innocent citizens come under suspicion of having committed an offence due to unreliable processes. In a recent representative poll, 72% of EU citizens opposed general monitoring of their messages. While providers will initially have a choice to search or not to search communications, follow-up legislation, expected in autumn, is to oblige all communications service providers to indiscriminate screening.
If you're not already using Swiss services like Threema and ProtonMail, then you're about to get a major wake up call. This is just the first step in a very large push to remove any possible chance for people to be able to communicate privately.
I'm also sure this is the first step in a global push against encryption. To put it in perspective, if the Autumn changes become mandatory, Google, Microsoft, Yahoo, Zoho, Facebook, and all the other providers of email and messaging services, will be required to "snoop" on their customers communications.
How does this affect you?
- All of your chat conversations and emails will be automatically searched for suspicious content. Nothing remains confidential or secret. There is no requirement of a court order or an initial suspicion for searching your messages. It occurs always and automatically.
- If an algorithms classifies the content of a message as suspicious, your private or intimate photos may be viewed by staff and contractors of international corporations and police authorities. Also your private nude photos may be looked at by people not known to you, in whose hands your photos are not safe.
- Flirts and sexting may be read by staff and contractors of international corporations and police authorities, because text recognition filters looking for “child grooming” frequently falsely flag intimate chats.
- You can falsely be reported and investigated for allegedly disseminating child sexual exploitation material. Messaging and chat control algorithms are known to flag completely legal vacation photos of children on a beach, for example. According to Swiss federal police authorities, 86% of all machine-generated reports turn out to be without merit. 40% of all criminal investigation procedures initiated in Germany for “child pornography” target minors.
- On your next trip overseas, you can expect big problems. Machine-generated reports on your communications may have been passed on to other countries, such as the USA, where there is no data privacy – with incalculable results.
- Intelligence services and hackers may be able to spy on your private chats and emails. The door will be open for anyone with the technical means to read your messages if secure encryption is removed in order to be able to screen messages.
- This is only the beginning. Once the technology for messaging and chat control has been established, it becomes very easy to use them for other purposes. And who guarantees that these incrimination machines will not be used in the future on our smart phones and laptops?