The lawmaker was joined by legal experts, human rights advocates, and technologists warning the public about the EARN IT Act’s frightening implications for free speech and privacy on the Internet
Earlier today, Senator Ron Wyden (D–OR) joined a livestream hosted by digital rights organization Fight for the Future to discuss the EARN IT Act, a dangerous new bill that threatens free speech online.
Senator Wyden did not hold back in his criticism of the legislation, telling viewers, "By allowing any individual state to set the laws for Internet content, the bill creates enormous uncertainty, both for strong encryption and free speech online. And what’s worse, a flood of state laws could potentially arise under the EARN IT Act and raise strong fourth amendment concerns, meaning that any evidence collected can be rendered inadmissible in court and accused offenders could get off scot-free! That seems to be pretty bizarre, even by Washington, DC standards."
During the livestream, Fight for the Future symbolically presented the Senator with an open letter signed by more nearly 600,000 people opposed to the EARN IT Act. Following the livestream, the event’s organizer had this to say:
"The EARN IT Act is a disaster for free expression and privacy online," said Dayton Young, Product Director at Fight for the Future (pronouns he/him). "Not only does this bill infringe upon the Constitutionally-protected rights of everyone in America, but the EARN IT Act will actually make it harder to catch and prosecute sexual predators. Any member of Congress who is serious about stopping child exploitation online must reject the misguided EARN IT Act, and focus on investing more resources in community-led efforts to stop violence and abuse before it happens."
The livestream also featured analysis from a number of legal experts, human rights advocates, and technologists.
"It actually is a bit of an insult, honestly, to people who experience violence to say that ‘What we’re going to do is not invest in prevention,’" said Kate D’Adamo, Partner at Reframe Health and Justice (pronouns she/her or they/them), She went on to criticize the authors of the EARN IT Act for failing to address the root causes of violence and exploitation, pointing out that existing programs to combat exploitation and violence are severely underfunded and overlooked by the same lawmakers who support the EARN IT Act.
"We look at it as an attack on free expression and an attack on the privacies we have in our lives, in every facet of our lives … offline and online," said Jun Harada, Head of Growth and Communication at Signal (pronouns he/him), a popular encrypted messaging app. "And so there really is not a particularly clean way that the EARN IT [Act] carves out space for a company like us to exist," he added, calling into question how technology companies will be able to operate if the EARN IT Act is passed into law.
Anyone interested in signing the petition and taking action to prevent the EARN IT Act from being signed into law can do so at NoEarnItAct.org. Clips of the event will be made public on the site shortly.