EARN IT Act Continues to Face Criticism as Committee Votes Secretly

Argumentative EARN IT Act is being debated today by the Senate Judiciary Committee even though it face tremendous criticism.

The bill, which was introduced two years ago and similarly opposed, would remove Section 230 liability protections from technology platforms if they violate abusive material laws. child sexual abuse (CSAM) at the state and federal levels. Section 230 protects all websites with user-generated content from liability for what users post on them and is the foundation of the modern Internet.

Critics of the law say it will significantly expands the risk of liability when hosting user-generated content and unencrypt end-to-end. This law would expand the risk of lawsuits against user-generated content, potentially causing websites to censor content more. It will also discourage companies from providing encryption services to users.

Ahead of today’s Senate Judiciary Committee hearing to consider the bill, a coalition of more than 60 organizations called on the committee’s Chairman, Senator Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) and Member rating Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) opposes it. The bill was first introduced by Senators Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) and Senators Lindsey Graham (RS.C.).

“We support curbing online child exploitation. However, EARN IT will actually make it harder for law enforcement to protect children. It will also lead to online censorship that will disproportionately affect marginalized communities and will jeopardize access to encrypted services,” the groups wrote in a letter sent to them. on Wednesday. “Dozens of organizations and experts warned this committee of these risks when this bill was previously considered, and all the same risks remain.”

The letter—Which is led by the Center for Democracy and Technology (CDT) and signed by the American Civil Liberties Union, Electronic Frontiers, Fight for the Future, Free Press Action, The Mozilla Foundation, the Wikimedia Foundation, and others — detail the potential bill impact.

Specifically, they said that because the bill allows states to impose whatever standards of liability they want on platforms, it would put platforms hosting user-generated content “at risk.” much more” as it would face “liability under dozens of laws that regulate conduct of varying standards.” The end result, the letter warned, is that “providers can choose to waives storage of user content”.

The letter also notes that SESTA / FOSTAa bill ostensibly aimed at curbing the online sex trade and last time Congress limited Section 230; rarely used to combat sex trafficking and instead forced sex workers to “offline and into harm’s way” and “generally their online expression”.

As for encryption, the letter says EARN IT will open the grounds for “far-reaching liability” and will “strongly discourage” vendors from providing encryption. While EARN IT says that providing encryption cannot be a platform’s “independent basis of liability” in cases of CSAM violations, it can be used as evidence to support support those claims.

“Even the mere threat that the use of encryption could be used as evidence against a supplier in a criminal prosecution would act as a strong discouragement against deploy encryption services from scratch,” the letter reads.

The EARN IT Act also created a committee — which would include federal law enforcement agencies — to create a set of “best practices” that vendors should follow to address CSAM. While “best practices” would be voluntary, by the Department of Justice Very clear desire to have the back door into encryption it seems “likely” they’ll put that in the “best practices” list.

The letter warns that failure to comply with such voluntary best practices “could lead to reputational damage to suppliers” and risk “a denial of compliance that could be taken as supporting evidence.” support provider liability and inform how judges evaluate these cases . ”

In a comment to Washington PostRiana Pfefferkorn, a research scholar at the Stanford Internet Observatory, calls ending encrypted messaging the bill’s real goal.

“The goal of this is to ensure that companies can be penalized at the state level for providing encryption.”

Despite the opposition, lawmakers went ahead with the bill, which is likely to be removed from committee today.


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* First published: February 10, 2022, 9:31 a.m. CST

Andrew Wyrich

Andrew Wyrich is the Daily Dot’s deputy technology editor. Andrew has written for USA Today, NorthJersey.com, and other newspapers and websites. His work has been recognized by the Association of Silurians, Investigative Reporters & Editors (IRE) and the Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ).

https://www.dailydot.com/debug/earn-it-act-criticism-senate-committee-vote/ EARN IT Act Continues to Face Criticism as Committee Votes Secretly

Jake Nichol

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