Open menu Close menu
Do you want cops to look at your kids' genitals? Great, because that's what's going to happen. – EU MEPs Juan López Aguilar & Birgit Sippel, probably


Recently, the EU ratified automated analysis of private online communications as well as sending copies of any communications matching some nebulous criteria for CSAM (Child Sexual Abuse Material) to state agencies.

The current legistlation made this practice legal while planned legislation would make it mandatory for every affected service provider – which prominently includes E-Mail and Messaging but extends to any other "number-independent interpersonal communications services".

Or – to drive the point home a little clearer – all your sexts are going to be looked at by error-prone algorithms nobody realistically understands (welcome to the world of "AI") and, on the say-so of those algorithms, automatically sent to law enforcement agencies.

This is done for the supposed benefit of the victims of child sexual abuse. This, people more weathered in the rhetorics of surveillance will already have recognized, is the equivalent of yelling "9/11" in a crowd full of conservatives.

This system has an enormous potential of actively harming child sexual abuse survivors by erroneously flagging their communications with therapists, partners and close friends they trust enough to discuss these issues with and directly send a copy of each of these communications to law enforcement agencies thereby completely obliterating any notion of the much needed privacy these people need to process the trauma they suffered.

Very much pertinent is also the fact that, even if the algorithms work as intended and with 100% accuracy, all sexts by minors would directly go to law enforcement, too.

But these algorithms aren't 100% accurate. They will report and disclose communications that have nothing to do with abuse, they will dismiss cases of actual abuse and, especially with the units handling child sexual abuse cases already understaffed and overworked, won't even put a dent in the sexual exploitation of children.

What this legislation will however do is eliminate any sliver of privacy still left in "private" communications while putting over 400 million people under the generalized suspicion of trafficking child pornography.

Additionally, it will probably coerce providers of communications applications that offer End-to-End Encryption (E2EE) – which makes this kind of centralized analysis impossible1 – into adding backdoors to their encryption, thereby greatly weakening its security and potentially opening the floodgates for malicious actors of all sorts to gain access to these private communications on a much grander scale than "just" corporations and cops.

Even worse (because of course it get's worse) is the fact that this legislation (and its US counterpart) is leading to the creation of the technical infrastructure needed for the mass-surveillance of virtually all private communication contents for any reason.

We already know surveillance is mostly turned against political dissidents and oppressed minorities, so this obviously isn't going in any good directions.

We also already know that governments routinely lie about what surveillance capabilities they have and what those are used for.

Trusting a government with surveillance is like trusting a compulsive liar to give you honest advice. It's like trusting a cleptomaniac to look after a jewelry store. Or like trusting a serial murderer to use an axe only to chop wood when his last 23 victims have been found chopped to pieces – you get the picture.

Once this infrastructure is deployed, it's going to be trivial to let it not only scan for the sexual abuse of children, but for anything the governments involved find objectionable – which judging by western governments track records will probably mean anyone who isn't white, LGBT+ peeps and anyone left of social democrats, tho probably a bunch of those too for good measure.

It is hard to overstate just how invasive this system would be. In some ways, it overshadows even the surveillance in the fictitious world of Nineteen Eighty-Four, which has long been judged as the definite standard of what a completely fucked surveillance-powered dystopia looks like.

Winston Smith at least had one corner in his place that wasn't under surveillance and Big Brother still needed people to surveill private communications. What we're looking at is the automated surveillance of essentially all private communications on the net.

We believe this development has to be fought tooth and nail if the last woeful remainder of our freedoms is to stay alive. Especially as survivor of an abusive household ourselves, we find it abhorrent that the destruction of liberties that are absolutely crucial for a free society is justified again and again with the interests of abused children when its demonstrably true that governments all over the world couldn't give less of a shit about them.

FUCK ChatControl. And fuck those weaselly, knob-eyed assholes who only want new tools for oppression instead of actually doing something that would help those affected by abuse.

We run this service because and in spite of the continued attacks on everyones freedoms and we will continue to do so even if it becomes illegal, so that hopefully we can help protect the privacy of those who are routinely targeted by state agencies.

  1. E2EE is encryption enacted directly by the endpoints of a communication, for example the phones running a messenger used for secure texting between two people. This means no other machines involved in the transmission of these texts over the internet – most notably those of the messaging service provider, can read their contents.