If passed into law, the EARN IT Act will give the Trump administration the power to destroy essential online encryption services, putting us all at risk of surveillance, censorship, human rights abuses, and other serious threats. Senators Graham (R–SC) and Blumenthal (D–CT) are trying to ram it through this week, using a procedural maneuver that would prevent any debate. Enter your phone number below, and we'll connect you to your Senators' offices so you can tell them: "Protect encryption. Protect free speech online. Reject the dangerous EARN IT Act."
More than 590,000 people have signed the open letter demanding Congress reject the EARN IT Act and protect our free speech online and privacy online. And Congress is listening.
On Thursday, July 23rd, Fight for the Future met with Senator Ron Wyden (D–OR) to deliver the open letter, and ask him to lead Congressional opposition to this disastrous new bill. Senator Wyden delivered a powerful message about the importance of protecting free speech and privacy online, and the threat that the EARN IT Act poses to everyone in America. He blasted the original bill as an effort to promote "the federal speech police, led by Bill Barr," and criticized the EARN IT Act's authors for rewriting the bill the night before the Senate Judiciary Committee voted on the controversial legislation.The livestream also featured analysis from a number of legal experts, human rights activists, and technologists, including:
Clips of livestream will be made available soon.
Just a few months ago, 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." Now Graham is making good on his threat.
Graham has 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 new legislation is 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 wants is no secret. For decades, he has 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.
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.
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.
President Donald Trump is ramping up persecution of his political opponents, falsely labeling anti-racist and anti-fascist protesters as terrorists. The DEA has been authorized to “conduct covert surveillance” on people attending protests against police brutality, and the FBI has begun interrogating protesters about their political views.
Many protesters are 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.
Lindsey Graham, William Barr, and other government officials have routinely ignored the obvious dangers of their Orwellian surveillance schemes. They have routinely lied and misled the public about their activities and their intentions. Now they want us to 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.