European lawmakers have been implementing a way to circumvent end-to-end encryption to address child sexual abuse material (“CSAM”) – what some activists term the “Chat Control” law. End-to-end communication guarantees that if you communicate with someone, only a receiving device will be available, and the sending device can decrypt or see the message in question. This is close to Bitcoin’s principles for spending money and financial flows – allowing you to choose who you reveal your spending to or who not to – with privacy-preserving and self-custody technologies also under attack. Freedom technology like Bitcoin and Nostr (which has recently built a proposal for end-to-end encrypted messages) and open-source tools like Signal focus on giving people digital privacy and autonomy – principles under attack from a recent proposal to scan users’ devices for content before it is encrypted.

Experts in cryptography and other scientists/researchers have released an open letter to discuss this proposal’s technical and policy issues. The urgency of the moment is because the legislation has a realistic chance of passing this time and, to the surprise of all, is being proposed right before the European elections. After several other attempts had been thwarted – as Bart Preneel, one of the originators of the letter explains, the Belgian presidency has advanced a new version of the Chat Control law, tweaked in two places to get more political support – the first tweak is that different services will be categorized into different levels of risk, with only “High Risk” services being scanned. However, the definition of a “High-risk” service is any that offers end-to-end encryption and real-time communications – apps like Signal and WhatsApp, used widely by so many, would fall under that definition. Services that allow for anonymous IDs (the default on the Internet) would also fall under this category.

Read the full text here



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