US Senators Advance Controversial Child Protection Bill

Daniel Attoe
Daniel Attoe

Updated · Feb 14, 2022

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On Thursday, lawmakers in the US Senate advanced the EARN IT Act, a contentious anti-exploitation bill, despite concerns.

EARN IT Act Clears Senate Hurdle

The Senate Judiciary Committee voted to advance the EARN IT Act, a bill intended to tackle child abuse-related material. In a markup session, the lawmakers moved forward with the legislation. They did so despite grave concerns from civil rights groups that it is counter-productive. 

The EARN IT Act of 2022 seeks to amend Section 230 of the Communications Act of 1934. It was first introduced in 2020. The Act aims to remove the protection that tech companies get under Section 230 against lawsuits over user-generated content.  

According to a co-sponsor of the bill, Sen. Richard Blumenthal, it will “really stop the most detestable and despicable kinds of child abuse involving really horrific pornographic images”.

However, detractors fear that there are undertones of a serious threat to strong encryption that protects internet users. Civil liberty and interest groups believe that the bill will discourage companies from consolidating privacy protection.

Encryption technology has increasingly grown stronger over the years. It is used to establish online privacy for all internet users, including parental control software for kids. Critics called the first version of the EARN IT Act a backdoor attack on encryption. The current iteration of the bill has not enjoyed a more favorable reception.  

Earlier in the week, over 60 human rights organizations called on the judiciary committee to not accept the bill.

Many companies with online content report potential child sexual abuse material (CSAM) to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. In 2019 alone, the organization received over 70 million CSAM images.

But the sponsors of the bill insist that many platforms do not act strongly enough, trusting the protection from Section 230.

There were no objections by committee members to the passage of the bill.

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Daniel Attoe

Daniel Attoe

Daniel is an Economics grad who fell in love with tech. His love for books and reading pushed him into picking up the pen - and keyboard. Also a data analyst, he's taking that leap into data science and machine learning. When not writing or studying, chances are that you'll catch him watching football or face-deep in an epic fantasy novel.

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