Senate committee advances bill that could threaten encryption, Section 230

Posted:
in General Discussion edited February 10
The U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee has advanced the controversial EARN IT bill, which would erode Section 230 protections for tech companies and could threaten the use of end-to-end encryption.

US Capitol building. Credit: Heidi Kaden
US Capitol building. Credit: Heidi Kaden


No Judiciary Committee senators opposed the bill's passage to the Senate floor. Still, several raised concerns about the legislation's potential threats to privacy and free speech, The Washington Post reported on Thursday.

The purpose of the bill is to "develop recommended best practices that providers of interactive computer services may choose to implement to prevent, reduce, and respond to the online sexual exploitation of children."

According to a fact document about EARN IT, it would create "new incentives for the tech industry to take online child exploitation seriously."

The bill would empower U.S. states and territories to create new regulations that could strip protections guaranteed under Section 230, which shields websites and platforms from liability for content posted by users.

Specifically, it creates an exemption to Section 230 for child sexual abuse material, or CSAM. In addition, it would also create a Commission to issue voluntary best practices for technology companies and online platforms to adopt.

Technologists and privacy advocates are concerned that the bill would create legal risk for businesses unless they choose to scan content hosted on cloud-based services -- including messages, photos, online backups, and more.

According to digital civil rights group the Electronic Frontier Foundation, EARN IT would "pave the way for a massive new surveillance system, run by private companies, that would roll back some of the most important privacy and security features in technology used by people around the globe."

The National Center on Sexual Exploitation, a supporter of the bill, countered the privacy and security claims, stating that online platforms have "major flaws" that would be corrected by EARN IT.

EARN IT was introduced by Sen. Lindsay Graham and Sen. Richard Blumenthal. If the name sounds familiar, it's because an earlier version of the bill was introduced in 2020 -- and subsequently dropped in the face of overwhelming opposition.

Apple, for its part, has already attempted to take a step toward scanning for CSAM material. Like the original EARN IT act, Apple's CSAM scanning system in iCloud was wildly unpopular. Apple eventually paused the plans after the pushback and promised to consult with researchers and advocacy groups. The EARN IT bill would force Apple's hand, however.

The EARN IT legislation will now move toward the Senate floor for a vote, but it isn't currently clear if the bill has the support it needs to become law, The Washington Post reported.

Read on AppleInsider

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 15
    lkrupplkrupp Posts: 10,017member
    Surveillance is the life blood of governments in the 21st century.

    interesting that what Apple got vilified for attempting will now be mandated by the government.
    edited February 10 viclauyyciOS_Guy80byronl
  • Reply 2 of 15
    jimh2jimh2 Posts: 434member
    @Lkrupp I’ll correct you :)

    Surveillance has always been the lifeblood of governments around the world since the first government was installed. The methods change but the problem still is there. 

    This won’t pass. I would not think Pelosi, Schumer or even Biden would entertain this. 
    magman1979byronlviclauyyciOS_Guy80baconstang
  • Reply 3 of 15
    DAalsethDAalseth Posts: 2,184member
    jimh2 said:
    This won’t pass. I would not think Pelosi, Schumer or even Biden would entertain this. 
    we live in a day and age where a bill mandating real time monitoring of peoples thoughts and shock collars to punish violators would pass if the words “to protect children” were put in the description. 
    I wouldn’t bet on any particular outcome, certainly not in an election year. 
    byronlviclauyyciOS_Guy80JaiOh81muthuk_vanalingambeowulfschmidt
  • Reply 4 of 15
    rob53rob53 Posts: 3,008member
    This would mean government and commercial systems would be protected either. I wonder if any of these idiots thought about that. If they try and create a tiered level of compliance allowing government and certain companies to not comply while telling all of us to just deal with it, I can’t see how any court would allow it. 
    baconstang
  • Reply 5 of 15
    jimh2 said:

    This won’t pass. I would not think Pelosi, Schumer or even Biden would entertain this. 
    Are you kidding? This administration has by far the most authoritarian policies of any administration in my lifetime (40+ years). Just because Joe seems like a nice kind grandpa doesn’t mean anything. Trump was an arrogant smack but his policies were not at all authoritarian in comparison.
    macpluspluswilliamlondonmuthuk_vanalingampscooter63
  • Reply 6 of 15
    This bill will also make smaller platform much harder to survive. The resources of Facebook or Google is much bigger than Signal, AI or a random dog forum. 
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 7 of 15
    Child sexual abuse is bad, but trying to prevent it should never mean taking away the privacy of everyone using a online services.

    Trying to get this passed by using the "it's for the children" argument is despicable.
    edited February 10 baconstangwatto_cobra
  • Reply 8 of 15
    Child sexual abuse is bad, but trying to prevent it should never mean taking away the privacy of everyone using a online services.

    Trying to get this passed by using the "it's for the children" argument is despicable.
    "Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety" - Benjamin Franklin
    rob53muthuk_vanalingambaconstangbyronlwatto_cobra
  • Reply 9 of 15
    jungmarkjungmark Posts: 6,922member
    georgie01 said:
    jimh2 said:

    This won’t pass. I would not think Pelosi, Schumer or even Biden would entertain this. 
    Are you kidding? This administration has by far the most authoritarian policies of any administration in my lifetime (40+ years). Just because Joe seems like a nice kind grandpa doesn’t mean anything. Trump was an arrogant smack but his policies were not at all authoritarian in comparison.
    Give me a break. First they want us to follow traffic laws. Next they want us to wear seat belts. 

    The military has mandatory vaccine requirements. So do public schools. 
    williamlondonljbyrnepscooter63
  • Reply 10 of 15
    America needs to get rid of all these trash politicians and go to a system where we all vote on every law, no more of this electing people to work for the people. They just work against the people. There needs to be a fair max for laws and we all vote on everything there is once a year, oh and online using end to end encryption. This current system is just not working 
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 11 of 15
    davidwdavidw Posts: 1,643member
    jungmark said:
    georgie01 said:
    jimh2 said:

    This won’t pass. I would not think Pelosi, Schumer or even Biden would entertain this. 
    Are you kidding? This administration has by far the most authoritarian policies of any administration in my lifetime (40+ years). Just because Joe seems like a nice kind grandpa doesn’t mean anything. Trump was an arrogant smack but his policies were not at all authoritarian in comparison.
    Give me a break. First they want us to follow traffic laws. Next they want us to wear seat belts. 

    The military has mandatory vaccine requirements. So do public schools. 
    >"The bill would empower U.S. states and territories to create new regulations that could strip protections guaranteed under Section 230, which shields websites and platforms from liability for content posted by users. 

    Specifically, it creates an exemption to Section 230 for child sexual abuse material, or CSAM. In addition, it would also create a Commission to issue voluntary best practices for technology companies and online platforms to adopt."<



    Give us, a break. The military and public schools are not private entities. Government can only enforce traffic laws on public roads. Here we  have the government requiring private entities to enforce government laws by doing something the government can not do, because it violates ones US Constitutional right to privacy, protection against unreasonable searches, along with due process. 

    A private entity has the right to monitor what's on their servers or passes through their servers, by users of their services. But once they are required to monitor what's on their servers or passes through it at the request of the government or else be stripped of Section 230 protection for any illegal activities perpetuated by their users, then that private entity has no choice and is acting on behalf of the government as a law enforcement agency. Therefore, they are not allowed to violate their users US Constitutional rights. 

    It's one thing for a private entity to search for child porn voluntarily and another for the government to pass laws stating a private entity must search for child porn on their servers or be subject to punishment by the government. 

    And then you got this Orwellian doublespeak ....... "...... a Commission to issue voluntary best practices for technology companies and online platforms to adopt." Do you really believe that the government created commission will issue best practices to adopt, that will be truly  ........... "voluntary"?
    edited February 11 baconstangbyronldewme
  • Reply 12 of 15
    davidw said:
    Give us, a break. The military and public schools are not private entities. Government can only enforce traffic laws on public roads. Here we have the government requiring private entities to enforce government laws by doing something the government can not do, because it violates ones US Constitutional right to privacy, protection against unreasonable searches, along with due process. 
    Your position (highlighted) is fairly reasonable and your words are fairly persuasive. But there's one thing that nobody seems to be addressing. That is, that Apple stores 27 different kinds of data on iCloud servers (Photos, Notes, iMessages, Keychain, etc.) and about half of those data types are not even visible to Apple because the only keys to decrypt those data items are stored on your iPhone's security enclave.

    So either the new law won't apply to items that are inaccessible by the company (eg, Apple) because those items are encrypted with a key that the company doesn't have, or every company will be prohibited from storing any items on their server that they can't decrypt. Which is it? If the former, the law won't be very effective. If the latter, the law will be very draconian.
    baconstangbyronldewmewatto_cobra
  • Reply 13 of 15
    1348513485 Posts: 239member
    georgie01 said:
    jimh2 said:

    This won’t pass. I would not think Pelosi, Schumer or even Biden would entertain this. 
    Are you kidding? This administration has by far the most authoritarian policies of any administration in my lifetime (40+ years). Just because Joe seems like a nice kind grandpa doesn’t mean anything. Trump was an arrogant smack but his policies were not at all authoritarian in comparison.
    Who's kidding who? Biden wants you to wear a mask and get a vaccine that will make you 97X less likely to die from Covid, saving Medicare many hundreds of biliions just for starters, and saving the medical profession from quitting en masse, which imperils everyone else trying to get life-saving medical care.
    Yeah, I can see where that's infringes on your freedom
    baconstangpscooter63dewmefastasleepwatto_cobra
  • Reply 14 of 15
    davidwdavidw Posts: 1,643member
    13485 said:
    georgie01 said:
    jimh2 said:

    This won’t pass. I would not think Pelosi, Schumer or even Biden would entertain this. 
    Are you kidding? This administration has by far the most authoritarian policies of any administration in my lifetime (40+ years). Just because Joe seems like a nice kind grandpa doesn’t mean anything. Trump was an arrogant smack but his policies were not at all authoritarian in comparison.
    Who's kidding who? Biden wants you to wear a mask and get a vaccine that will make you 97X less likely to die from Covid, saving Medicare many hundreds of biliions just for starters, and saving the medical profession from quitting en masse, which imperils everyone else trying to get life-saving medical care.
    Yeah, I can see where that's infringes on your freedom
    As morbid as it sounds, it's all the people that died of Covid19 (more in 2021 than in 2020) that is saving Medicare hundreds of billions of dollars. The main reason why SS and Medicare are going broke is because more people are living longer, not because more are dying sooner. 
    edited February 11 byronlwatto_cobra
  • Reply 15 of 15
    Surveillance is a kind of addiction for government officials. The more they snoop, the more they hear and the more paranoid they get. Their solution is to snoop more so they can analyze the threats. Around and around they go. Eventually everyone will be monitored constantly. The thing these politicians don't understand is they themselves and their close family are at greatest threat for personal information exposure. Foreign governments and corporations would love to have some dirt on politicians that they can use for leverage or release during elections.
    edited February 13
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