Controversial Section 230 Reform Finds More Opposition in Senate

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A previous version of the bill was criticized by human rights groups and privacy advocates.

Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., condemned legislation introduced Tuesday that would reduce liability protections under Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act for companies that host user-generated content online.

The Eliminating Abusive and Rampant Neglect of Interactive Technologies, or EARN IT Act—reintroduced by Sens. Lindsey Graham, R-SC, and Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn.—would remove Section 230 protections from service providers regarding child sexual abuse material on their sites and platforms.

Wyden, however, echoed immediate criticism from privacy advocates and human rights organizations, who say the bill does little to protect children while reducing Americans’ privacy. Critics, including the ACLU, contend the legislation could encourage companies to steer away from strong encryption practices and privacy protections for swaths of users.

“This sadly misguided bill will not protect children,” Wyden said. “Instead, the EARN IT Act threatens the privacy and security of law-abiding Americans by targeting any form of private, secure devices and communication. As a result, the bill will make it easier for predators to track and spy on children and also harm the free speech and free expression of vulnerable groups.”

Wyden added that child sexual abuse material is already illegal under federal law, so internet companies like Facebook, Twitter or TikTok have no protection from prosecution under Section 230 and are required to report any such material to law enforcement.

The Senate Judiciary Committee is expected to take up the legislation Today.