Friday, July 3, 2020

Crypto Wars

US authorities have long waged a war against encryption. Now the so-called crypto wars have reached another devastating height with the introduction of the Lawful Access to Encrypted Data Act by Senators Graham, Blackburn, and Cotton. This bill is worse than the previously introduced EARN IT bill. Act now to stop EARN IT and the Lawful Access to Encrypted Data Act.

"The day before a committee debate and vote on the EARN IT Act, the bill’s sponsors replaced their bill with an amended version. Here’s their new idea: instead of giving a 19-person federal commission, dominated by law enforcement, the power to regulate the Internet, the bill now effectively gives that power to state legislatures."

- Joe Mullin

Judiciary Committee members were scheduled to vote (7-2-20)... to either forward the old version of the bill... or the new version... or none, to be considered by the full Senate. The bill has become a lightning rod in a government push against encryption.

Attorney General Bill Barr has revved up his campaign to convince lawmakers that strong encryption helps criminals and terrorists evade law enforcement. The new bill also comes amid a backlash over privacy issues that’s made many lawmakers far less sympathetic to tech companies and the cybersecurity advocates who are taking their side in this case.

Our go-to authority on such matters is the Electronic Frontier Foundation. Here is their take on the issue...

"Instead of requiring that Internet websites and platforms comply with the commission’s “best practices” in order to keep their vital legal protections under Section 230 for hosting user content, it simply blows a hole in those protections. State lawmakers will be able to create new laws allowing private lawsuits and criminal prosecutions against Internet platforms, as long as they say their purpose is to stop crimes against children. 

The whole idea behind Section 230 is to make sure that you are responsible for your own speech online... not someone else’s. Currently, if a state prosecutor wants to bring a criminal case related to something said or done online, or a private lawyer wants to sue, in nearly all cases, the prosecutor has to seek out the actual speaker. They can’t just haul a website owner into court because of the user’s actions. But that will change if EARN IT passes. That’s why we sent a letter  yesterday to the Senate Judiciary Committee opposing the amended EARN IT bill.

Section 230 protections have enabled the Internet as we know it. Despite the politicized attacks on Section 230 from both left and right, the law actually works fine. It’s not a shield for Big Tech... it’s a shield for everyone who hosts online conversations. It protects small messaging and email services, and every blog’s comments section."

Check out the the article written by Joe Mullin on the EFF Website.

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