SENATE EARN IT ACT
The Earn It Act, described as an effort to address sexual exploitation could threaten encryption practices,
A US Senate bill that critics say would enable widespread censorship and surveillance has taken a significant step towards becoming law, raising alarm among internet freedom advocates.
The Senate judiciary committee voted on Thursday to advance the Earn It Act.
It is legislation that on paper is intended to address sexual exploitation.
However, privacy experts say the act would give the Department of Justice unprecedented power over the internet and potentially threaten the privacy of messages sent online.
The “Eliminating Abuse and Rampant Neglect of Interactive Technology” (Earn It) Act was introduced in March by the South Carolina Republican Lindsey Graham.
Also Democrat Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut, Republican Josh Hawley of Missouri, and Democrat Dianne Feinstein of California.
Desinged to address what lawmakers characterized as “the rapid increase of child sexual abuse material on prominent online platforms”.
“Technological advances have allowed the online exploitation of children to become much, much worse over recent years,” said Feinstein.
“Companies must do more to combat this growing problem on their online platforms.”
The bill would weaken protections under Section 230, a measure that has historically shielded internet publishers from legal responsibility for the content shared on their sites.
It would also allow individuals to sue tech companies that don’t take “proper steps” to prevent online child exploitation.
Those steps would be determined by a 19-member panel of unelected officials, mostly law enforcement.
Who would impose a set of “best practices” that websites and online forums would have to follow, or risk getting shut down.
The Earn It Act is supported by anti-exploitation groups including the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children (NCMEC), Rights4Girls, and the National Center on Sexual Exploitation.
But privacy advocates are concerned its powers could overreach and pose a threat to encryption.
That is a tool that obscures the content of messages so others – including tech companies and law enforcement – cannot read them.
SENATE EARN IT ACT BEING LOOKED AT
What is this “Section 230” thing anyway?
Section 230 refers to Section 230 of Title 47 of the United States Code (47 USC § 230). It was passed as part of the much-maligned Communication Decency Act of 1996.
Many aspects of the CDA were unconstitutional restrictions of freedom of speech (and, with EFF’s help, struck down by the Supreme Court).
But this section survived and has been a valuable defense for Internet intermediaries ever since.
How does Section 230 apply to bloggers?
Bloggers can be both a provider and a user of interactive computer services.
Bloggers are users when they create and edit blogs through a service provider, and they are providers to the extent that they allow third parties to add comments or other material to their blogs.
Your readers’ comments, entries written by guest bloggers, tips sent by email, and information provided to you through an RSS feed would all likely be considered information provided by another content provider.
This would mean that you would not be held liable for defamatory statements contained in it.
However, if you selected the third-party information yourself, no court has ruled whether this information would be considered “provided” to you.
One court has limited Section 230 immunity to situations in which the originator “furnished it to the provider or user under circumstances in which a reasonable person…would conclude that the information was provided for publication on the Internet….”
So if you are actively going out and gathering data on your own, then republishing it on your blog, we cannot guarantee that Section 230 would shield you from liability.
But we believe that Section 230 should cover information a blogger has selected from other blogs or elsewhere on the Internet.
Since the originator provided the information for publication to the world. However, no court has ruled on this.
Do I lose Section 230 immunity if I edit the content?
Courts have held that Section 230 prevents you from being held liable even if you exercise the usual prerogative of publishers to edit the material you publish.
You may also delete entire posts. However, you may still be held responsible for information you provide in commentary or through editing.
For example, if you edit the statement, “Fred is not a criminal” to remove the word “not,” a court might find that you have sufficiently contributed to the content to take it as your own.
Likewise, if you link to an article, but provide a defamatory comment with the link, you may not qualify for the immunity.
DAWG SAYS: THOUGHT SAID TO FIGHT SEXUAL EXPLOITATION AND SOUNDS GOOD AND NEEDED.
BUT IT WILL NOT STOP THERE AND MAKE IT EASIER FOR BIG BROTHER TO LOOK OVER OUR SHOULDER.
THEN MORE PEOPLE WILL BE EXPLOITED BY THE GOVERNMENT ITSELF.
THIS ALSO OPENS ANOTHER DOOR FOR A BIGGER ISSUE – HACKERS.