A committee likely to be chaired by the Attorney General is likely to pass a bill that will punish web platforms for using end to end encryption. This new bill would reduce legal protections for apps and websites and the draft bill – ‘National Commission on Online Child Exploitation Prevention’ to establish rules for finding and removing child exploitation content from various platforms. Companies failing to follow the rule could potentially lose some protection cover under section 230 of the Communication Decency Act.
Amends would be made in section 230 to make sure companies would be liable for state prosecution and civil lawsuits over child abuse and exploitation related material, should the companies refuse to rule the committee’s rules and practices. The companies failing can be prosecuted for content like defamation and threats. Under the EARN IT Act (Eliminating Abusive and Rampant Neglect of Interactive Technologies), the companies will have to add a ‘backdoor’ for law enforcement.
It is stated that end to end encryption prevents law enforcement from finding criminals and offenders but the companies such as Facebook, which provide encryption on the apps such as Messenger and WhatsApp, is not required to comply. There has been a push for a ‘backdoor’ for years and the cited reasons are threats and terrorism which has now shifted to child exploitation.
The bill is not final at this point but a closer look will be taken in section 230 next month to discuss potential changes to incorporate in the bill.