Senate Judiciary Committee passes the EARN IT Act, a dangerous bill that threatens online free speech and security

Posted July 2, 2020, 5:37 PM

Last-minute amendments to the EARN IT Act failed to address serious concerns about human rights, and the disastrous manager’s amendment made the bill significantly worse

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: June 29, 2020
CONTACT: press@fightforthefuture.org, 978-852-6457

Today, the Senate Judiciary Committee voted in favor of the EARN IT Act, paving the way for a Senate vote on this controversial bill.

The EARN IT Act has come under fire from legal experts, human rights advocates, and technologists for threatening end-to-end encryption services and making digital communications vulnerable to invasive government surveillance. Members of the Senate Judiciary Committee scrambled to amend the legislation at the last minute, but their amendments utterly failed to address the fundamental threat posed by the EARN IT Act … and the manager’s amendment introduced by Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) made the legislation even worse

“The EARN IT Act is and always will be a threat to free speech and free expression online,” said Dayton Young, Product Director at Fight for the Future (pronouns he/him). “This legislation is tailor-made to remove important legal safeguards for social media platforms, Internet providers, VPNs, and messaging apps that protect our online communications and personal data”

He continued, “The amendments passed by the Senate Judiciary Committee do nothing to change this fundamental threat to our digital rights. Instead, these amendments simply open up tech companies to the possibility of lawsuits in 50 different states with 50 different legal standards and 50 different sets of regulations. If the EARN IT Act is passed into law, tech companies will be incentivized to reject end-to-end encryption services, verify user identities, and censor any content that might be considered objectionable or offensive rather than risk legal action. That’s going to make us all less safe.”

Since the EARN IT Act was introduced, Fight for the Future has collected more than 575,000 signatures on a petition urging members of Congress to reject the dangerous legislation. This past week, Fight for the Future drove more than 10,000 phone calls to the members of the Senate Judiciary Committee in opposition to the bill.

It appears that the Senate Judiciary Committee did not listen to the public’s concerns.

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