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 for children at risk. By hinging Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act for online services on complying with rules set by a new committee, online services may be forced to weaken encryption protocols and subsequently create a “backdoor” for criminals to access personal documents and images stored by families in online platforms.
“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. “The real challenge is funding. Online services work with law enforcement to report millions of instances of illegal content and child exploitation every year but law enforcement is only able to produce convictions on a small percentage of leads.”
“Sen. Graham’s bill would make it easier for criminals and foreign agents to attack victims by weakening vital encryption technology intended to protect users,” continued Szabo.
“FOSTA, the only amendment to Section 230, and its unintended consequences hurt the very victims it was designed to help — and Sen. Graham’s bill would do the same. By weakening encryption, the EARN IT Act would put children at risk by making phones, family photo storage, and internet-connected baby monitors more vulnerable to predators.”
“Law enforcement has a backlog of actionable cases on child exploitation due to a dearth of resources. Sen. Graham’s bill does nothing to address the underfunding of NCMEC and other funding for law enforcement’s fight against child exploitation.”