United States Senator Lindsey Graham from South Carolina is co-sponsoring a legislation that will allow companies to "scan" any information shared online to check if it violates the law.
The Gateway Pundit called Graham "the worst" for sponsoring the comeback of the Eliminating Abusive and Rampant Neglect of Interactive Technologies (EARN IT) Act reported by the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) as a "massive new surveillance system" that is expected to threaten the privacy of anyone in the world using the internet.
"A group of lawmakers led by Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) and Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) have re-introduced the EARN IT Act, an incredibly unpopular bill from 2020 that was dropped in the face of overwhelming opposition. Let's be clear: the new EARN IT Act would pave the way for a massive new surveillance system, run by private companies, that would roll back some of the most important privacy and security features in technology used by people around the globe," the EFF said.
"It's a framework for private actors to scan every message sent online and report violations to law enforcement. And it might not stop there. The EARN IT Act could ensure that anything hosted online-backups, websites, cloud photos, and more-is scanned," the EFF explained.
Accordingly, the proposed legislation aims empowers states to devise new internet regulations that removes "legal protections" for mobile apps and websites to conduct such surveillance by through the prohibition of "end-to-end encryption," which ensures both users and providers the privacy of their information. The new legislation then aims that private companies who impose such encryption such as WhatsApp, iMessage, Signal, and Amazon Web Services, will be held liable. The law also empowers law enforcement databases to be scanned.
"We know that EARN IT aims to spread the use of tools to scan against law enforcement databases because the bill's sponsors have said so. In a "Myths and Facts" document distributed by the bill's proponents, it even names the government-approved software that they could mandate (PhotoDNA, a Microsoft program with an API that reports directly to law enforcement databases)," the EFF disclosed.
In a press release dated January 31, Graham announced the reintroduction of the EARN IT Act meant "to encourage the tech industry to take online child sexual exploitation seriously." Graham explained the rampant exchange of materials online that lead to the sexual abuse of children. The new legislation then aims to put a stop such exploitation.
"There are tens of millions of photos and videos circulating throughout the internet, showing the most heinous acts of sexual abuse and torture of children. The EARN IT Act removes Section 230 blanket liability protection from service providers in the area of child sexual abuse material on their sites," Graham said.
"To all the victim groups and law enforcement entities urging Congress to do something about the scourge of child sexual abuse material and the exploitation of children on the internet: we hear you. The days of children being exploited on the internet and their families being unable to do anything about it are coming to an end," he stressed.
On the other hand, Blumenthal elaborated that the new law intends to hold such tech companies liable for the exploitation of children "when they refuse to report or remove images of these crimes hosted in their platforms."