Washington – Ahead of a markup on legislation that would make it more difficult for online services to remove dangerous content, the Computer & Communications Industry Association sent a letter to Committee leaders, signed by 11 associations and companies, expressing concern with the consequences of this approach.
The Senate Judiciary Committee is expected to consider the “Eliminating Abusive and Rampant Neglect of Interactive Technologies” (EARNIT) Act on Thursday. The technology industry shares the Committee’s goal to eliminate the scourge of Child Sexual Abuse Materials (CSAM) online. Unfortunately, as the CCIA-led letter outlines, EARNIT would harm internet user security and privacy, threaten strong encryption, and exacerbate the problems it purports to address while mandating no new measures to prosecute criminals who spread CSAM.
CCIA has advocated for legal certainty for companies to remove nefarious and illegal content for more than 25 years.
The following can be attributed to CCIA President Matt Schruers:
“The technology sector is a committed partner with law enforcement as we work to eliminate the scourge of CSAM. Our companies are continuously innovating to better detect, notify and remove dangerous CSAM content, as demonstrated by the 29 million reports made in 2021.
“Unfortunately, this bill would uproot the framework that currently enables companies to remove nefarious and illegal content online. Threatening companies that partner with law enforcement with legal liability would result in more dangerous content online.
“There is widespread agreement that companies should be empowered to remove illegal content, yet this legislation would put companies in the position of complying with one law only to risk civil liability from another. EARNIT would also make the use of encryption a potential basis for liability, which would disincentivize secure communications in an era of increasing threats from hostile powers.
“As the technology sector makes millions of CSAM referrals each year that result in only a small percentage of indictments, we encourage Congress to enact legislation to increase the number of prosecutions of bad actors.”