Yesterday, Mozilla and Google filed a joint submission to the public consultation on amending the Information and Communications Technology (ICT) Act organised by the Government of Mauritius. Our submission states that the proposed changes would disproportionately harm the security of Mauritian users on the internet and should be abandoned. Mozilla believes that individuals’ security and privacy on the internet are fundamental and must not be treated as optional. The proposals under these amendments are fundamentally incompatible with this principle and would fail to achieve their projected outcomes.
Under Section 18(m) of the proposed changes, the ICTA could deploy a “new technical toolset” to intercept, decrypt, archive and then inspect/block https traffic between a local user’s Internet device and internet services, including social media platforms.
In their current form, these measures will place the privacy and security of internet users in Mauritius at grave risk. The blunt and disproportionate action will allow the government to decrypt, read and store anything a user types or posts on the internet, including intercepting their account information, passwords and private messages. While doing little to address the legitimate concerns of content moderation in local languages, it will undermine the trust of the fundamental security infrastructure that currently serves as the basis for the security of at least 80% of websites on the web that use HTTPS, including those that carry out e-commerce and other critical financial transactions.
When similarly dangerous mechanisms have been abused in the past, whether by known-malicious parties, business partners such as a computer or device manufacturer, or a government entity, as browser makers we have taken steps to protect and secure our users and products.
In our joint submission to the on-going public consultation, Google and Mozilla have urged the Authority not to pursue this approach. Operating within international frameworks for cross-border law enforcement cooperation and enhancing communication with industry can provide a more promising path to address the stated concerns raised in the consultation paper. We remain committed to working with the Government of Mauritius to address the underlying concerns in a manner that does not harm the privacy, security and freedom of expression of Mauritians on the internet.