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EARN IT Act Remains a Threat to Free Speech and Privacy, Says ITIF

February 10, 2022

Riley Nelson

[email protected]

(202) 626-5744

WASHINGTON—Following the House Committee on the Judiciary’s advancement of the EARN IT Act of 2022 today, the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation (ITIF), the leading think tank for science and technology policy, issued the following statement from Ashley Johnson, senior policy analyst:

The EARN IT Act is another example of Congress failing to learn from its mistakes and making reckless changes to Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act. Despite changes from the bill’s original 2020 text, it remains a threat to privacy, free speech, and the Internet economy.

The EARN IT Act would incentivize online services to scan their users’ posts, messages, and other interactions for criminal content, specifically child sexual abuse material, to avoid liability. In addition, the EARN IT Act would punish online services for using end-to-end encryption, a key technology for securing user and business data from hackers and protecting vulnerable groups from government overreach around the world. Finally, like FOSTA-SESTA—Congress’ previous amendment to Section 230—the EARN IT Act would chill constitutionally protected speech by forcing private parties to independently police what is legal and illegal online to avoid liability.

Online child sexual abuse is a critical issue, and law enforcement needs additional tools to combat these crimes. But undermining user privacy, data security, and free speech would make the Internet a less hospitable place for all users and businesses.

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The Information Technology and Innovation Foundation (ITIF) is an independent, nonprofit, nonpartisan research and educational institute focusing on the intersection of technological innovation and public policy. Recognized by its peers in the think tank community as the global center of excellence for science and technology policy, ITIF’s mission is to formulate and promote policy solutions that accelerate innovation and boost productivity to spur growth, opportunity, and progress.

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