On Tuesday, Senators Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) and Lindsey Graham (R-SC) re-introduced the EARN IT Act, legislation that would erode the protections of Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act. While the bill is intended to crack down on child sexual abuse material online, a broad range of civil rights and human rights organizations oppose the EARN IT Act because of the threat it poses to online speech, particularly for marginalized communities.
“The last time the Senate chipped away at Section 230, the results were disastrous,” said Chamber of Progress CEO Adam Kovacevich. “The EARN It Act goes even farther, giving platforms one of two options: quit moderating content altogether, or enforce invasive content moderation with outsized impacts on LGBTQ people and other marginalized communities. As Democrats, we need to think critically about the harm this legislation could do to groups that have a long history of being excluded and overlooked.”
In 2018, Congress enacted FOSTA-SESTA in an attempt to crack down on sex trafficking with rollbacks to Section 230 protections. Instead, the new law endangered the lives of sex workers who depended on an online infrastructure that was dismantled by the new law. Additionally, FOSTA-SESTA had limited utility for the Department of Justice in its fight against sex trafficking. Some lawmakers including Rep. Ro Khanna now advocate for repeal of FOSTA-SESTA.
Similarly, the EARN IT Act carves out areas of Section 230 to make internet companies liable for content posted on their platforms. Organizations including the ACLU, the Human Rights Campaign, and Human Rights Watch have spoken out against the legislation, raising free speech and privacy concerns.
Chamber of Progress (progresschamber.org) is a new center-left tech industry policy coalition promoting technology’s progressive future. We work to ensure that all Americans benefit from technological leaps, and that the tech industry operates responsibly and fairly.
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