The European Parliament is debating a proposal that, if it passes, could be disastrous for privacy worldwide. Every message, photo, or hosted file could be scanned, with the results sent to government agencies.
We don’t need “bugs in our pockets.” A private and secure internet should be built with privacy and security in mind—not by treating every user like they’re in a criminal lineup.
This proposal is meant to stem the spread of child abuse material online. But abused children need privacy and security as much as anyone. Privacy-protecting technologies, like end-to-end encryption, let both minors and adults reach out for trusted help.
We asked the EU Commission to withdraw this flawed proposal last year. We’ve been joined by more than 120 civil society groups from Europe and around the world, who have said the EU’s scanning rules will endanger privacy and free expression.
But the Commission has ignored these concerns, and the parliamentary process is moving forward. Now that the future of this proposal is in the hands of Members of the European Parliament (MEPs), it’s time for everyone to speak up—especially constituents in EU member states.
There’s now an online petition where you can join EFF and dozens of other civil society groups expressing our opposition to this scanning proposal. This petition was created by our partners at European Digital Rights (EDRi), and people who sign the petition may receive other communication from EDRi. You can learn more about the campaign at EDRi’s Stop Scanning Me website.
Young people themselves don’t want police and governments looking at their messages, and they don’t believe it will keep them safe. EDRi recently surveyed 8,000 teenagers in EU countries. A majority of the respondents already use encrypted apps like WhatsApp and Signal, and 80% are uncomfortable with government scanning, even for the purpose of preventing child abuse.
If EU governments vote to broadly scan user messages, it will harm whistleblowers, activists, journalists, labor unions, and oppressed groups everywhere. It will be a dangerous precedent for mass surveillance worldwide.