Don’t Scan Me!

The Online Safety Bill contains a ‘spy clause’ – everyone’s private messages will be scanned. It’s state-mandated private surveillance.

A ‘spy clause’ in the Online Safety Bill introduces scanning of our private messages. Clause 110 of the bill empowers Ofcom to issue notices to providers of messaging services. These notices require them to develop and deploy software that will scan your phone for illicit material.

Message scanning is an expansion of mass surveillance. Millions of people use these services daily. Scanning phone messages breaks the promise of confidentiality and undermines our security. It unlocks the security measures built into your phone. Some providers of end-to-end encrypted messaging such as Signal and WhatsApp have said they will withdraw their service from the UK, rather than undermine security.

Who’s checking on your phone in private online spaces?

Private messaging in the Online Safety Bill and the impact on end-to-end encryption

Read our policy briefing

If the securocrats get their way, they will turn your phone into a spy in your pocket. They will scan your private messages for illicit content without judicial oversight. There is a scary parallel here with the surveillance society created in places like China. If we accept the principle of mass surveillance of our private messages, it opens the door to creeping authoritarianism.

Don’t Scan me! Stop the Spy Clause

Join our campaign to ensure the Online Safety Bill preserves encryption and free expression online.

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The Story So Far

Online Safety Bill Triple shield or triple surveillance?

Update on the Parliamentary amendments The Online Safety Bill is back in Parliament.
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How the Online Safety Bill puts a spy in your pocket

The deployment of client-side scanning on private messaging systems was trailed in a research paper published by the technical directors of GCHQ and the National Cybersecurity Centre (NCSC).
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MPs must rethink this dire Bill

The government has delayed further debate on the Online Safety Bill until the Autumn.
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Internet policy is broken

The government’s proposals for the Online Safety Bill are getting worse, rather than better.
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Joint Committee advice cannot fix flawed Online Safety Bill

On 14 December 2021, the Joint Parliamentary Committee charged with scrutinising the draft Online Safety Bill published its report.
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Online Safety Bill: Sweeping Ministerial Powers

The Joint Parliamentary Committee scrutinising the government’s Draft Online Safety Bill concluded its evidence sessions on 4 November.
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Online Safety Bill: Kill Switch for Encryption

Of the many worrying provisions contained within the draft Online Safety Bill, perhaps the most consequential is contained within Chapter 4, at clauses 63-69.
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Encryption in the Online Safety Bill

Let’s look at how the Online Safety Bill brings the contents of your private communications into scope for scanning, monitoring, and censorship.
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MPs: Encryption keeps your constituents safe

Today (14 June) Open Rights Group has joined over thirty digital and human rights organisations in calling on MPs to keep their constituents safe by protecting end-to-end encryption from legislative threats.
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Endgame for end-to-end encryption

Today, Wired has reported that the Home Office is actively exploring legal and technical mechanisms to compel Facebook and WhatsApp to break end-to-end encrypted messaging.
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ORG signs joint civil society statement defending encryption

Open Rights Group has signed onto a joint civil society statement expressing concerns over proposals by the UK government which would undermine encryption, including through its Online Harms Bill.
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Online Harms: Encryption under attack

The UK government wants to make the web “safer” by using the Online Harms Bill to weaken encryption of private messages.
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The UK Government should protect encryption not threaten it

 Encryption also strengthens democracy by underpinning digital press freedom.
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Encryption must not be a dirty word. Here’re 5 ways we all rely on it

British politicians are again putting pressure on Internet companies to make sure the Government can access end-to-end encrypted messages.
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