An EU proposal on combating child sexual abuse material online relies on technology not yet invented and, even worse, would create significant national security risks.
Susan Landau is Bridge Professor in The Fletcher School and Tufts School of Engineering, Department of Computer Science, Tufts University and Visiting Professor, University College London, Department of Computer Science. She directs Tufts MS program in Cybersecurity and Public Policy. Her most recent book, "People Count: Contact-Tracing Apps and Public Health," was published by MIT Press in 2021. Landau has testified before Congress and briefed U.S. and European policymakers on encryption, surveillance, and cybersecurity issues. Landau is a member of the Cybersecurity Hall of Fame, a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and of the Association for Computing Machinery.
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In an attempt to prevent the online circulation of child sexual abuse material, a reintroduced Senate bill runs the risk of failing to combat the problem while simultaneously decreasing internet security.
Client-side scanning poses serious technical risks, and there is little that prevents such systems from being repurposed to scan for other types of targeted content.
In developing a system for preventing the spread of child sexual abuse material that involves scanning the material of all those using certain apps, Apple is acclimatizing the idea of bulk surveillance.
It's well known the code is buggy; that's why software updates for anything from apps to operating systems are now the norm. But if the public understands this, the courts have not followed suit.
The digital apps can be effective in curbing coronavirus spread—but not everyone will benefit from them.
Many have discussed the shortcomings of contract-tracing apps during the pandemic. The real problem is the lack of adequate social and public health infrastructure in the U.S.