UK Intelligence chief’s plan to scan our phones turns them into ‘spies in your pocket’ 

  • Privacy and digital rights group say spy chief’s plans to scan our phones will turn them into a ‘spy in your pocket’. 

  • Mass surveillance of millions of people’s devices is a step toward a Chinese-style surveillance state.

  • Independent experts say you can’t break encryption without creating security vulnerabilities. 

It was reported today that intelligence chiefs at GCHQ are backing plans to break end-to-end encryption by forcing big tech companies to develop software that scans our phones for prohibited images.1 

Responding to this news, the Executive Director of the Open Rights Group (ORG), Jim Killock, said: 

UK cybersecurity chiefs’ plan to invade our privacy, break encryption, and have our mobile phones automatically scanned for images, will turn mobile devices into a ‘spies in your pocket’.

“They imagine a world where AI-driven client-side scanning automatically snoops on people’s phones to prevent criminal activity. This would be a massive step toward a Chinese-style surveillance state. We have already seen China wanting to exploit similar technology to crack down on political dissidents.

“Independent security experts that aren’t on the payroll of GCHQ warn that this type of client-side scanning would have the effect of breaking end-to-end encryption, with consequences that would do more harm than good. You can’t create a system like this without creating vulnerabilities that could be exploited by criminals, and state actors in cyber-warfare battles.”2



Press 07951265812 /

Notes to editor