Sun 15 March 2020

You Did Not EARN IT

In the midst of a global pandemic, there's a bill moving through the Senate that has massive ramifications for private companies and platforms utilizing encryption to secure user data. Smarter people than me have written in depth about it, and I urge you to read their take and contact your representatives to take action against this bill.

Essential Reading

Contact Your Representatives

If you can take action, contact your representatives and ask them to vote against or condemn this bill. The passage of this would cause serious harm to users, ranging from the general web-browsing population to activists and targeted groups (e.g, minorities). I've included a copy of the letter I sent to my representatives earlier this week - feel free to use it as a base when contacting your own. If you're unsure where to look or how to contact your representatives, check out this EFF tool for getting started.

I'm writing today to ask you to consider voting against the EARN IT act currently making its way through the Senate. While the act is targeting the very serious issue of child exploitation, it does so in an overly broad way that threatens the foundations of the internet. The bill effectively proposes the creation of a government-funded commission that would be tasked with establishing U.S. government dictated best practices for private-sector companies and services in regards to detecting Child Sexual Abuse Material, or "CSAM".

Private companies that would be threatened by this already work to aggressively detect, flag, and address harmful content (CSAM), and are actively engaged in working with the government to further this work. Passage of this bill, however, would ensure that the freedoms the internet has held, which allowed it to grow and innovate on an unprecedented scale, would effectively be tied to Attorney General signoff.

The bill (indirectly, but notably) curtails the ability for private companies to design secure products and services. These types of development require strong encryption, both for systems like digital commerce, as well as the safety of users - including children.

Allowing this type of legislation to pass under an adminstration that has seen fit to strip away civil liberties is a frightening prospect that must be rejected.

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