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New US bill threatens Facebook and Google’s technological edge, End-to-end encryption

A new US bill that could hurt technology companies’ ability to offer end-to-end encryption will be implemented in the first week of March and it aims to curb the distribution of child sexual abuse material on such platforms. The Eliminating Abuse and Rampant Neglect of Interactive Technologies Act of 2019, or the ‘EARN IT Act,’ dampens this key immunity unless companies comply with a set of “best practices,” which will be determined by a 15-member commission led by the Attorney General.

The bill, proposed by the Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee Lindsey Graham and Democratic Senator Richard Blumenthal, aims to fight such material on platforms like Facebook and Alphabet’s Google’s by making them liable for state prosecution and civil lawsuits. It does so by dampening a key immunity the companies have under a federal law called Section 230.

This law shields certain online platforms from being treated as the publisher or speaker of information they publish, and largely protects them from liability involving content posted by users. Section 230 was used by social platforms for monetizing the toxic internet feuds based on Religion, Caste, and racism. The new bill is expected to put a break in it.

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