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EARN IT Act, Impacting Section 230, Advances in Senate with New Encryption Amendment

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Screenshot of Sen. Patrick Leahy from the webcast

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.

Screenshot of Sen. Richard Blumenthal from the webcast

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.

Former Assistant Editor Jericho Casper graduated from the University of Virginia studying media policy. She grew up in Newport News in an area heavily impacted by the digital divide. She has a passion for universal access and a vendetta against anyone who stands in the way of her getting better broadband. She is now Associate Broadband Researcher at the Institute for Local Self Reliance's Community Broadband Network Initiative.

Digital Inclusion

Senators Reintroduce Bipartisan Digital Equity Act

Sen. Murray re-introduces bi-partisan that would provide grants to states pushing for digital equity.

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Patty Murray, D-Washington

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.

Screenshot of Sen. Richard Blumenthal from the webcast

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.

Continue Reading

Infrastructure

Senate Committee Hears High Symmetrical Internet Speeds, Up-To-Date Technologies For Future Of Rural America

NTCA’s Shirley Bloomfield on driving improvements for rural broadband.

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Shirley Bloomfield

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.

Screenshot of Sen. Richard Blumenthal from the webcast

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.

Continue Reading

Broadband's Impact

House Commerce Committee Aligned on Telecom, Mapping and Supply Chain Security, Says Ranking Member

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on

Photo from Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers' website

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.

Screenshot of Sen. Richard Blumenthal from the webcast

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.

Continue Reading

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