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New web threat: Government plan to scan online messages - WND
Privacy group warns of danger from strategy to eliminate encryption
By WND Staff
A privacy organization warns a bill in Congress would violate privacy and security by requiring "every message sent" to be read by government-approved scanning software.
The Electronic Frontier Foundation said the EARN IT bill sponsored by Sens. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., and Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., would spell the end of encryption online.
The bill's authors avoided the word "encryption," EFF noted, but they proposed "legislation that enables an all-out assault on encryption."
"It would create a 19-person commission that's completely controlled by the attorney general and law enforcement agencies. And, at the hearing, a vice-president at the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children made it clear what he wants the best practices to be," EFF said.
"NCMEC believes online services should be made to screen their messages for material that NCMEC considers abusive; use screening technology approved by NCMEC and law enforcement; report what they find in the messages to NCMEC; and be held legally responsible for the content of messages sent by others."
The objective appears to be "an Internet where the law required every message sent to be read by government-approved scanning software. Companies that handle such messages wouldn't be allowed to securely encrypt them, or they'd lose legal protections that allow them to operate."
The proposal would provide for a removal of some legal protections, under Section 230 of federal law, for sites that don't follow the "best practices."
That would mean the sites "can be sued into bankruptcy," the report said.
"You can't have an Internet where messages are screened en masse, and also have end-to-end encryption any more than you can create backdoors that can only be used by the good guys. The two are mutually exclusive. Concepts like 'client-side scanning' aren't a clever route around this; such scanning is just another way to break end-to-end encryption. Either the message remains private to everyone but its recipients, or it's available to others," EFF warned.
The organization, which advocates for privacy issues and individual control over online data, said the "commission" would be dominated by law enforcement and its allies.
"Not only will those groups have a majority of votes on the commission, but the bill gives Attorney General Barr the power to veto or approve the list of best practices. Even if other commission members do disagree with law enforcement, Barr’s veto power will put him in a position to strongarm them."
Once a scanning precedent is set, EFF said, "Authoritarian regimes around the world will rejoice, as they have the ability to add their own types of mandatory scanning, not just for child sexual abuse material but for self-expression that those governments want to suppress."
LIBERTY HAS NO EXPIRATION DATEDemocrats wouldn't buy a clue if it was government subsidized.
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