The EARN IT Act Violates the Constitution
By Sophia Cope, Aaron Mackey, and Andrew Crocker
Posted May 11, 2020
Since senators introduced the EARN IT Act (S. 3398) in early March, EFF has called attention to the many ways in which the bill would be a disaster for Internet users’ free speech and security.
We’ve explained how the EARN IT Act could be used to drastically undermine encryption. Although the bill doesn’t use the word “encryption” in its text, it gives government officials like Attorney General William Barr the power to compel online service providers to break encryption or be exposed to potentially crushing legal liability.
The bill also violates the Constitution’s protections for free speech and privacy. As Congress considers the EARN IT Act—which would require online platforms to comply with to-be-determined “best practices” in order to preserve certain protections from criminal and civil liability for user-generated content under Section 230 (47 U.S.C. § 230)—it’s important to highlight the bill’s First and Fourth Amendment problems. More…