A group of world leaders in cryptography and security has warned that scanning images on smartphones, as Apple proposed in August, should be treated like mass surveillance and should be banned by law.

“[Device scanning] makes what was previously private on a user’s device potentially available to law enforcement and intelligence agencies, even in the absence of an arrest warrant, ”said the authors, including Whitfield Diffie, an inventor of public-key cryptography, and Ronald Rivest, an inventor of the widely used RSA encryption system and firewall expert Steven Bellovin.

“Since this data breach is affecting entire populations, it is a mass surveillance technology,” they added.

The researchers sounded the alarm as calls for an encryption bypass grow louder by intelligence and law enforcement agencies around the world.

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