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Signal opposes EU Chat Control law over message scanning

Signal opposes EU Chat Control law over message scanning

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FILE PHOTO: Encrypted-messaging app Signal has argued against the EU’s proposal in the Chat Control law to scan messages on encrypted apps.

FILE PHOTO: Encrypted-messaging app Signal has argued against the EU’s proposal in the Chat Control law to scan messages on encrypted apps.
| Photo Credit: AP

The encrypted-messaging app Signal has argued against the EU’s proposal in the Chat Control law to scan messages on encrypted apps. Signal president Meredith Whittaker posted an official statement from the company on X against the bill saying “scanning is the same old surveillance with new branding” and that this “undermines encryption” while “creating significant vulnerabilities.” 

The Chat Control law is a part of the EU’s move to fight against online child sexual abuse material or CSAM. The bill has been re-drafted after backlash from privacy experts and tech leaders warning about citizen privacy saying people now can consent if the material can be scanned before being encrypted. But several others like Whittaker have called the change purely cosmetic.

Another new change in the proposal is the ‘upload moderation’ provision where content will be scanned before being transmitted or encrypted which critics say defeats the principle of encryption which involves end-to-end principle. This could also potentially create new security vulnerabilities or backdoors for third parties to exploit too.

“Let’s be very clear, again: mandating mass scanning of private communications fundamentally undermines encryption. Full stop. Whether this happens via tampering with, for instance, an encryption algorithm’s random number generation, or by implementing a key escrow system, or by forcing communications to pass through a surveillance system before they’re encrypted,” the official statement released by Signal said.  

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Whittaker has repeatedly warned against implementing the proposal saying Signal will leave the EU market if that happens. “This proposal–if passed and enforced against us–would require us to make this choice. It’s surveillance wine in safety bottles,” she tweeted on X earlier on May 31.

Last year in September, the UK government delayed its Online Safety Bill after a similar clause that required tech companies to side scan encrypted client messages came under fire. Private messaging apps like Signal and WhatsApp had taken the same stance against the bill then. 



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