Today, the Senate Judiciary Committee passed an amended version of the EARN IT Act. The controversial legislation will now head to the full Senate floor for debate. While the amendments include substantial changes, groups like the ACLU and Free Press Action are still concerned about the ramifications the bill could have for freedom of speech and marginalized groups.
On the surface, the EARN IT Act is meant to protect against child abuse. But in its initial form, the bill also threatened end-to-end encryption. The amended EARN IT Act ensures that companies won’t face added liability for creating cybersecurity tools like encryption, but the encryption debate isn’t over. Instead, legislators have moved that fight to the Lawful Access to Encrypted Data Act, which would force companies to build backdoors to their products to allow government access. In theory, that could prevent criminals and drug dealers from communicating covertly, but it could also threaten basic privacy rights.