NetChoice Pushes Back on the Anti-Encryption EARN IT Act

Today, NetChoice pushed back on the Anti-Encryption EARN IT Act at the Senate Judiciary Hearing “The EARN IT Act: Holding the Tech Industry Accountable in the Fight Against Online Child Sexual Exploitation.

“By attacking encryption, the EARN IT Act undermines children’s online safety, while doing little to help law enforcement tackle child exploitation,” said Carl Szabo, NetChoice Vice President and General Counsel. “The tech industry sent over 17 million child exploitation tips to NCMEC in 2018. The problem is not that cases are not being reported, it’s that reported cases are not being prosecuted.”

“Fourth Amendment concerns in the EARN IT Act could endanger existing efforts by online platforms to help in the fight against child exploitation.”

“It would make it harder for law enforcement to track and tackle child exploitation while failing to solve the backlog at the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC), and as a result does nothing to improve prosecution rates for child exploitation.”

Sacrificing internet privacy in the fight against child exploitation won’t make children safe

Chicago Tribune

There’s no question about it: We need to keep our kids safe online. This sentiment undergirds a new bill from Sen. Lindsey Graham’s, R-South Carolina, and Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-New York, which Graham says would tackle child exploitation. But it would actually do the exact opposite.

U.S. Legislation Will Restrain Online Child Abuse

HNGN

The bill was assailed by Carl Szabo, vice president and general counsel at NetChoice, he said in a quote,” “The EARN IT Act creates a false choice between protecting children and supporting strong encryption protections.”

BROADBAND ROUNDUPTech Industry Pushes Back Against EARNIT, Microsoft on Digital Divide, Satellite Analyzer-in-the-cloud

Broadband Breakfast

CCIA President Matt Schruers had the following to say about EARNIT:

“Technology providers need the flexibility to make digital products and services safer and more secure. Law enforcement needs the resources and direction to prioritize prosecuting bad actors.

“Everyone has a role to play in meeting our shared goal of reducing crime online. Unfortunately, creating a new federal commission to second-guess how private Internet companies manage content and secure their users is not the best way to fight crime,” Schruers said.

The other associations signing on to the letter were the Consumer Technology Association, the Internet Association, the Internet Infrastructure Coalition, and NetChoice.

The CyberWire Daily Briefing

The CyberWire

NetChoice Announces Opposition to Sen. Graham’s EARN IT Act (NetChoice) Today, Sen. Graham (R-SC) introduced the EARN IT Act, a bill with good intentions to tackle child exploitation yet falls short in addressing the underlying issues while creating new vulnerabilities…

Encryption clash: Executive branch, Congress vs. tech, civil liberties groups

Politico

The industry organizations: The Computer & Communications Industry Association, Consumer Technology Association, Internet Association, Internet Infrastructure Coalition and NetChoice signed a joint letter to bill sponsors Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), the Judiciary chairman, and Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) emphasizing the encryption risks.

“Strong encryption is critical for national security, a vibrant and competitive digital economy, and the online and physical safety of individuals, including children,” the organizations wrote. “Creating a false choice between encryption and intermediary protections would exacerbate threats to these technology users, placing those most vulnerable Americans at greatest risk.” 

CCIA, 4 Associations Send Letter Warning Of Encryption, Safety Risks Of New Bill

Computer and Communication Industry Association

Washington — The Computer & Communications Industry Association sent a letter signed by 4 other associations warning Congress of the collateral dangers of altering the law that gives internet companies legal certainty to remove nefarious content. Under current law companies are granted liability protections which enable them to remove offensive content.

Now several Senators are proposing the “Eliminating Abusive and Rampant Neglect of Interactive Technologies” (EARNIT) Act, which would create a government-funded commission charged with specifying private sector practices for online monitoring and content removal. In the letter, CCIA, Consumer Technology Association, Internet Association, Internet Infrastructure Coalition, and NetChoice explain that internet companies are constantly updating proactive measures to remove harmful content online, including child exploitation and child sexual abuse material. The letter also notes the bill could have implications for online security measures companies are implementing.

U.S. legislation targets online child sexual abuse; threatens encryption on Facebook, Google

Reuters, New York Times

Carl Szabo, Vice President and General Counsel, NetChoice

“The EARN IT Act creates a false choice between protecting children and supporting strong encryption protections,” said Carl Szabo, vice president and general counsel at NetChoice – a group that counts Facebook, Google, Twitter among its members.

EARN IT Act: Instant Reaction

Morning Consult

Carl Szabo, Vice President and General Counsel, NetChoice

“What you’re seeing is a misunderstanding of what Section 230 is, what it does and its necessity,” Szabo said. “None of the sponsors of this act have supported existing congressional efforts to explore the unintended consequences of SESTA,” a bill passed in 2018 that amends Section 230 to include provisions waiving liability protections for online platforms that host illegal sexual content. “They seem unwilling to recognize that SESTA has harmed the very victims it has tried to help. Until we understand the harm of the only other amendment to Section 230, it is premature to consider this legislation.”