Lawmakers need to shelve the EARN IT Act before they get someone killed

Posted February 1, 2022, 12:47 PM

US Senators Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) have reintroduced the EARN IT Act, a dangerous piece of legislation that has been roundly condemned by nearly every major LGBTQ+ organization in the US as well as human rights and security experts from around the world. 

Digital rights group Fight for the Future, which last year organized a viral online campaign at NoEarnItAct.org that generated more than half a million letters to US lawmakers, issued the following statement, which can be attributed to the group’s director, Evan Greer (she/her):

“The EARN IT Act is one of the most poorly conceived and dangerous pieces of Internet legislation I have seen in my entire career, and that’s saying a lot. 

This bill will make children less safe, not more safe. And in the process, it will trample human rights and online free expression, particularly for trans and queer folks. The sponsors of this bill are ignoring the LGBTQ+ community, and they’re going to get us killed.

SESTA/FOSTA, the last major change to Section 230, “has a body count,” according to numerous reports from sex work and harm reduction advocates. Lawmakers should investigate the harm done by their last tinkering with Section 230 by passing the SAFE SEX Worker Study Act, before they rush to make more changes to the law and potentially put lives in danger.

The EARN IT Act also takes aim at end-to-end encryption, which is one of the most important technologies keeping people safe from violence and abuse. Strong encrypted messaging also protects our hospitals, schools, airports, and water treatment facilities. Disincentivizing popular services from offering strong encryption to users will put lives in danger for absolutely no benefit.

It’s infuriating that we have to waste energy opposing misguided and reckless proposals like the EARN IT Act, because we desperately need lawmakers to take thoughtful and meaningful action to address the power and harm of Big Tech companies. Instead of blowing up online free speech and putting the LGBTQ+ community in danger, lawmakers should finally pass strong Federal data privacy legislation, antitrust measures, and support FTC enforcement actions targeting algorithmic harms and surveillance practices that are the foundation Big Tech’s harm to society.

Our jobs as parents and advocates is to keep children safe, but it’s also to enact policies that lead to the type of world we want our children to grow up in: a world with basic human rights, freedom of expression, and democracy.”

Fight for the Future plans to update the campaign at NoEarnItAct.org to drive emails and calls to legislators opposing this terrible bill. Stay tuned.

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