The Eliminating Abuse and Rampant Neglect of Interactive Technologies Act of 2019 (EARN IT Act) has passed the Senate Judiciary Committee after addressing concerns about weakening encryption.
The EARN IT Act is aimed at protecting children and eliminating online sexual abuse. Many critics, however, were afraid the bill went too far in weakening encryption that law-abiding users rely on.
The bill addresses the Section 230 protections that limit the liability companies incur from the actions of users on their platforms. In order to maintain their protections, the original bill called for companies to follow mandatory “best practices” outlined by a commission of experts. Many companies and critics warned that these “best practices” could require companies to weaken industry-standard encryption, leaving them little recourse.
Senator Graham filed an amendment that waters down that provision of the bill, specifically changing the “best practices” to recommendations rather than requirements. In addition, according to The Verge, Senator Patrick Leahy filed an amendment—that was approved—that would “exclude encryption” as a factor that would increase a company’s liability.
The bill will now move to the Senate floor for a vote by the entire body.