June 2, 2020 —The heavily contested Eliminating Abusive and Rampant Neglect of Interactive Technologies Act advanced out of the Senate Judiciary committee, with the addition of a new amendment.
During a Thursday hearing, Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., pushed for an amendment that would ban state and federal officials from undermining platforms encryption practices when implementing the bill.
The bill has been widely critiqued as a Trojan horse for the Department of Justice’s longstanding anti-encryption agenda. Critics fear that certain provisions could force companies to abandon encryption protections.
Leahy’s amendment addressed the encryption issue, increasing bipartisan support for the bill.
“My goal is not to end encryption — my goal is to begin to challenge child porn” said Senator Lindsey Graham, R-S.C. “This bill is not about encryption and it never will be.”
The EARN IT Act, initially introduced on March 5 by co-sponsors Graham and Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., would revoke platforms’ Section 230 immunity in instances of child pornography if they fail to comply with a set of best practices for fighting child exploitation online.
The best practices would be developed by an unelected 19-member commission under the direction of the attorney general, who would have the authority to approve or reject them.
This raised concern among members, including Sen. John Neely Kennedy, R-La., who said, “I don’t want any government to define ‘poison,’” referring to what content should or should not be moderated.
The bill’s sponsors maintained that its goal is to hold social media sites accountable.
“There is no reason for these platforms to have blanket immunity that is not enjoyed by any other industry,” Blumenthal said.
Senators on both sides withdrew amendments they planned to fight for in order to conduct a swift vote.
Sen. Christopher Coons, D-Del., considered an amendment to increase the level of funding for programs that help prevent the traumatization of child pornography victims.
Graham pledged that there would be future opportunities to further negotiate the language of the bill in response to Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, who argued for the necessity of fine tuning some of the bill’s provisions.
The passage of the bill sends a warning sign to Silicon Valley that there is overwhelming bipartisan concern over Section 230 and that companies’ immunity has the potential to be threatened.
- Telemedicine is Increasingly Important, But Comes With Challenges, Say Route Fifty Panelists
- Open Access Infrastructure Important, But Difficult to Develop, Say Digital Infrastructure Investment Panelists
- Broadband Breakfast Live Online on Wednesday, August 26, 2020 — Champions of Broadband
- Broadband Breakfast Live Online on Wednesday, August 19, 2020 — Champions of Broadband: Tom Hazlett
- Broadband Breakfast Live Online on August 12, 2020 — Champions of Broadband: Broadband Breakfast Reporters and Editors
Signup for Broadband Breakfast
Artificial Intelligence1 month ago
U.S. State Department Employing Artificial Intelligence Against COVID-19 Misinformation
Broadband Roundup1 month ago
Artificial Intelligence Task Force, State Cybersecurity, ADTRAN Offers Rural Funding Guidance
Infrastructure1 month ago
Michigan Broadband Cooperative Calls Report Saying Municipal Broadband Has an Unfair Advantage ‘Laughable’
5G1 month ago
Verizon CEO Hans Vestberg Describes 5G-to-the-Home Vision, Claiming U.S. Leads in 5G Deployment
Digital Inclusion1 month ago
‘Disconnection Day’ Looms as a Flouted ‘Keep Americans Connected’ Pledge Expires
Open Access4 weeks ago
In Danville, Virginia, an Early Adopter of Open Access Seeks to Prove the Business Model
Innovation1 month ago
Telecommunication Industry Working Group Aims to End Robocalls Through Cryptographic Credentials
Cybersecurity1 month ago
Metrics and Automation Can Improve Federal Cybersecurity Measures