The Stop Scanning Me movement organised a mass protest in Berlin against dangerous surveillance law

The German alliance against chat control "ChatkontrolleSTOPPEN!" mobilised people in a protest against the European Commission's mass surveillance plans under the Child Sexual Abuse Regulation (CSAR). The action took place during the visit of the European Union Interior Commissioner to the conference of the German Interior ministers in Berlin.

By Digitalcourage (guest author) · September 13, 2023

A person armed with an angle grinder stands in front of a yellow mailbox. The crowd looks on tensely as the tool screeches loudly as it hits the metal. Police are also present, but do not intervene.

After a short time, the mailbox gives way. The metal is broken and so is the protection of the letters from prying eyes.

Anne Herpertz, a German politician from the Pirate Party Germany, takes out letter after letter and reads them aloud: “Trade secrets of a start-up, name and address of a whistleblower and other confidential information.”

The brute force of this action is a symbol of what the European Commission is planning to do with its surveillance law on chat control (CSAR): breaking the digital privacy of letters for everyone.

A few meters away, the Interior Ministers’ Conference (IMK) is taking place with a special guest: the European Commissioner for Home Affairs, Ylva Johansson, who is responsible for the CSAR proposal. She has come to promote her unprecedented surveillance plans.

Photo of a protester holding a sign saying "Chatkontrolle verhindern!"

In response to this event, the German alliance “ChatkontrolleSTOPPEN!” organised the protest action. Led by the German digital rights organisations and EDRi members: Digitalcourage, Digitale Gesellschaft and the Chaos Computer Club, invited representatives of political parties and the press to take a public stand against the dangerous CSAR proposal.

To make sure that the politicians of (in)security at the conference don’t miss this important message, the protesters brought a few things. A giant banner “Big Sisters Are Watching You”, alludes to the three responsible persons:

  • European Commissioner for Home Affairs Ylva Johansson
  • European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen
  • German Interior Minister Nancy Faeser.

Additionally, Digitalcourage presented an analogue “prototype of chat control”, showing how the scanning of personal information on each device would look like.

The Member of the German Federal Parliament Tobias B. Bacherle, representing the Green Party Germany, agrees on the spot to try it out and puts his cell phone on the prototype scanner. Just like all people in the EU, he is, of course, also falsely flagged as a potential suspect. The proposed “AI” surveillance approach stops at nothing. Shortly before, he criticised the CSAR proposal in his speech.

The German alliance against CSAR promised to continue the fight for everyone’s privacy and stand as a vocal, vibrant civil society against the European Commission’s mass surveillance plans.

“We don't want to wake up in a dystopia where governments can monitor everything through chat control, where they can determine what we are allowed to write publicly or privately and where there is no reliable encryption and IT security anymore. That's why we say: Save the digital secrecy of correspondence, stop chat control. Stop Scanning Me!”

- German civil alliance ChatkontrolleSTOPPEN!

The article was first published by Digitalcourage here. (Read in German)

Contribution by: Konstantin Macher, Campaigner, EDRi member, Digitalcourage