House sponsor of EARN IT Act openly admits it’s SESTA/FOSTA all over again. This bill doesn’t help kids, it just threatens privacy and human rights

Posted October 1, 2020, 6:02 PM

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: October 1, 2020

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press@fightforthefuture.org

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Lawmakers in the House of Representatives have introduced a companion bill to the dangerous and misguided EARN IT Act, legislation that has drawn increasing criticism from experts and human rights groups after it passed out of the Senate Judiciary Committee. More than half a million people have written to their lawmakers opposing the bill at NoEarnItAct.org, and Fight for the Future has driven more than 10,000 phone calls to Senate offices. 

Representative Ann Wagner (R-MO) who introduced the House version of the bill with Sylvia Garcia (D-TX), openly admits that the legislation is "a natural follow-up to FOSTA," the last piece of legislation that poked a hole in Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, which has been roundly condemned by experts for harming the very communities it claimed to protect. Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) has introduced legislation to study the harms done by SESTA/FOSTA, which led to entire swaths of the Internet such as Craiglist personals ads shutting down. 

"The EARN IT Act is disgraceful. It’s intentionally convoluted legislation that exploits the trauma of abuse survivors in order to score points for politicians looking to get re-elected. This bill won’t make children safer. All it will do is demonize and criminalize encryption technology that protects people’s safety and basic human rights, and open the floodgates for Internet censorship at a massive scale," said Evan Greer (she/her) Deputy Director of Fight for the Future, "Congress didn’t heed warnings from experts and marginalized communities about SESTA/FOSTA, and now that legislation has led to enormous harm and even loss of life. It would be unconscionable for lawmakers to advance this legislation instead of taking real steps to address child safety and the harms done by Big Tech companies."

The EARN IT Act has come under fire from legal experts, human rights advocates, libertarian groups, progressive organizations, child abuse prevention groups, and technologists for threatening end-to-end encryption services and opening the floodgates for widespread Internet censorship. Sex worker advocates demonstrated against the bill in Oakland last month, calling out VP candidate Senator Kamala Harris (D-CA) for her support of the legislation, which was made even worse after a last minute manager’s amendment from Lindsey Graham (R-SC).

The EARN IT Act is currently stalled in the Senate, and unlikely to come up for a vote during this session due to opposition from Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) and other lawmakers. But the introduction in the House makes it clear that Congress is continuing to push this deeply flawed legislation. Fight for the Future will continue mobilizing Internet users from across the political spectrum to oppose it. 

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