The EARN IT Act Is a Sneak Attack on Encryption

"Riana Pfefferkorn, the associate director of surveillance and cybersecurity at Stanford's Center for Internet and Society, outlined fears about the privacy and security implications of an earlier leaked draft of the EARN IT Act in January. After a preliminary assessment of the version of the bill introduced on Thursday, she told WIRED that she sees well-meaning revisions aimed at reducing concerns that EARN IT could violate First, Fourth, and Fifth Amendment rights related to speech, privacy, and lawful search. But she says the bill remains fundamentally problematic.

"I see this as being an attempt to cure procedural problems while throwing a bone somewhat to civil liberty, privacy, and security concerns," she told WIRED. "But looking at the additional language it’s clear to me that this is still going to be a vehicle for the attorney general to wage his war on encryption. And it's kind of a black box. One of my fears is if this were implemented, what’s to stop China from saying 'in addition to monitoring for child sex abuse images, turn this on for Uighur freedom activists too.'""