US Senate Amends EARN IT Act — To Let States Restrict Encryption

Long-time Slashdot reader stikves reminded us that a committee in the U.S. Senate passed an amended version of the “EARN IT” act on Thursday. And this new version could do more than just end personal end-to-end encryption, warns Engadget:

The other major concern opponents of the EARN IT Act raise has to do with Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, which says that companies are not liable for much of the content that users post. Originally, the EARN IT Act proposed requiring that companies “earn” Section 230 protections by following recommended practices outlined by a Department of Justice commission. Without those protections, companies like Twitter or Facebook might be compelled to remove anything that might prompt a legal challenge, which could threaten freedom of speech. The amendments passed Thursday strip the Department of Justice commission of any legal authority and will not require companies to earn Section 230 protections by following recommended practices.

But the amended bill would change Section 230 to allow lawsuits from states, and state legislatures could restrict or outlaw encryption technologies.
The senior policy counsel for Free Press Action, a media reform advocacy group, harshly criticized the legislation’s new version.

“Even as amended today, it invites states to begin passing all sorts of laws under the guise of protecting against abuse, but replicating the problems with the original EARN IT Act’s text.”

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