US: Controversial Bill to protect children online advanced in Senate
The EARN IT Act of 2022 that targets how tech platforms and websites handle child sexual abuse was approved by a Senate panel vote. This bill has been objected to by several civil rights groups fearing that it will harm all internet users especially as it undermines encryption.
This bill has reignited the debate of the safe harbour enjoyed by Tech companies under the federal law. The proposed bill is pushing towards amending Section 230 of the Communications Act of 1934, which has shielded intermediaries from being responsible over the user-created content they host. The bill proposes to increase the legal exposure for companies if they fail to do enough to remove child sexual abuse material (CSAM) by allowing states to bring civil and criminal suits. As the name implies the bill adopts an approach where companies have to earn their safe harbour protection.
The Bill still has a long way before it becomes a law. It will now be placed on the Senate floor.