TELL CONGRESS TO STOP THE EARN IT ACT
STOP THE EARN IT ACT
This bill makes kids less safe, not more safe. And it would kill online privacy and free expression. Tell your lawmakers to oppose it!
Red alert! US Congress has reintroduced the EARN IT Act, a dangerous and misleading bill that claims to be about protecting children but would actually put all of us in danger. The EARN IT Act threatens to destroy online encryption. And by repeating the same mistakes as a previous bill called SESTA/FOSTA, it would lead to widespread Internet censorship and crackdowns on marginalized communities. When EARN IT was introduced for the first time in 2020, it was shelved in the face of overwhelming public outcry and opposition from human rights groups. Right now, key lawmakers in the House and Senate are deciding whether this bill will advance. Sign the petition below to tell Congress: “Don’t kill online encryption! Protect free speech online and reject the dangerous EARN IT Act.”
TIME IS RUNNING OUT TO STOP THE EARN IT ACT.
Now that the EARN IT Act has been reintroduced, it’s likely to move very quickly. Because this is being misleadingly sold as a bill to “protect children,” it will be very hard for elected officials to vote against it. But if enough of us speak out, we can convince leaders in the House and Senate to stop the EARN IT Act from ever going to the floor for a vote. Fill out the form to write to your lawmakers right now.
EXPERTS EXPLAIN WHY THE EARN IT ACT IS DANGEROUS
On Thursday, July 23rd, 2020, Fight for the Future hosted a virtual meeting with Senator Ron Wyden (D–OR) to deliver the open letter, the livestream also featured analysis from a number of legal experts, human rights activists, and technologists. Watch the livestream below, and see for yourself how the EARN IT Act threatens online freedom and privacy.
- Senator Ron Wyden
- Ashkhen Kazaryan, Director of Civil Liberties at TechFreedom
- Mark Stanley, Director of Communications and Operations at Demand Progress
- Kate D’Adamo, Partner at Reframe Health and Justice
- Seth Hall, Political Activist at Tech Workers Coalition
- Jun Harada, Head of Growth and Communication at Signal
THE EARN IT ACT IS A WOLF IN SHEEP’S CLOTHING
Just a few months before the bill’s initial introduction, Senator Lindsey Graham (R–SC) delivered an ominous threat to Apple, Facebook, and any other tech company that might refuse to kill encryption programs that prevent malicious hackers, law enforcement officers, and others from accessing our private communications systems: “You’re going to find a way to do this or we’re going to do it for you.”
Graham then went on to make good on his threat.
Graham authored the Eliminating Abusive and Rampant Neglect of Interactive Technologies Act of 2019 — or EARN IT Act, for short — under the guise of protecting children from online exploitation. But in reality, this legislation was – and continues to be – just a thinly-veiled excuse to destroy privacy protections for everyday people like you and me.
You see, the EARN IT Act grants the Attorney General broad authority to force tech companies to do whatever he wants, and what Attorney General William Barr wanted, as an example, was no secret. For decades, he demanded that tech companies weaken encryption by creating “digital backdoors” that grant law enforcement agencies access to our personal communications. That puts us all in danger. Who is to say future Attorneys General will always act in our best interests?
ENCRYPTION PROTECTS SECURE SYSTEMS FROM HACKERS
Security professionals have repeatedly warned us that killing encryption will have disastrous effects, but that hasn’t stopped our government from installing digital backdoors in secure systems. Predictably, hackers discovered and exploited those digital backdoors, wreaking havoc with communication systems, power grids … even nuclear facilities.
Some lawmakers understand the risk posed by breaking encryption. In 2016, a bipartisan Congressional commission concluded that “[e]ncryption is inexorably tied to our national interests.” Senator Ron Wyden (D–OR) has pointed out that “[y]ou can’t only build a backdoor for the good guys … Once you weaken encryption with a backdoor, you make it far easier for criminals and hackers and predators to get into your digital life.”
Do we really want criminals and hackers and predators getting into our hospital records, court records, and energy infrastructure? Of course not.
ENCRYPTION PROTECTS THE PUBLIC FROM INVASIVE SURVEILLANCE
Edward Snowden exposed the American government’s massive — and unconstitutional — digital surveillance program back in 2013. Unfortunately, Snowden’s revelations didn’t stop our law enforcement and intelligence agencies from abusing their surveillance powers to spy on journalists, racial justice activists, and millions more.
Beyond the systemic surveillance issues we face, individual police officers routinely misuse their access to confidential databases to get information on neighbors, romantic partners, and business rivals.
We know that giving law enforcement and intelligence officials access to our communications results in them taking advantage of that access in ways that hurt us — often with absolutely no benefit to the public good. Why should we trust them with even greater access to our private conversations? Simply put, we shouldn’t.
WE NEED FREE SPEECH ONLINE, NOW MORE THAN EVER
The US government continues to ramp up persecution of political activists, journalists, and whistleblowers. Under the Trump administration, the DEA was authorized to “conduct covert surveillance” on people attending protests against police brutality, and the FBI began interrogating protesters about their political views. As Lawfare documents in a ripple effect phenomenon, “In the past several years, state legislatures across the country have passed laws designed to curb the rights of political protesters and increase their exposure to criminal penalties.
Many protesters have started taking precautions to protect themselves from government surveillance, like encrypting their phones and using encrypted messaging apps to communicate with others. But that won’t mean anything if the EARN IT Act is passed into law.
Encrypted communication services ensure that governments will never be able to silence their people from speaking up about racial justice, global health pandemics, or anything else we want to share with the world. Destroying encryption gives governments one more way of controlling us.
We can’t let that happen.
WE DON’T NEED TO EARN OUR RIGHT TO PRIVACY
Lindsey Graham, William Barr, and other government officials routinely ignored the obvious dangers of their Orwellian surveillance schemes. They routinely lied and misled the public about their activities and their intentions. When half a million people participated in our previous campaign to stop the EARN IT Act, they made clear its danger as a piece of legislation roundly condemned by nearly every major LGBTQ+ organization in the US as well as human rights and security experts from around the world. Now these same senators are renewing efforts – albeit under a different administration – to make us earn our right to privacy and our right free speech online. But these rights don’t need to be earned; they are protected by the Constitution.
Don’t let Congress chip away at your essential freedoms online. Sign our petition now to tell your lawmakers : “Don’t kill online encryption! Reject the dangerous EARN IT Act.”
These organizations are helping to fight the EARN IT Act by driving people to sign the petition, encouraging their followers to call Congress, and participating in events to raise awareness about this dangerous legislation.