The Earn It Act

What is the Earn It Act?

Sens. Lindsey Graham and Richard Blumenthal introduced the Earn It Act ostensibly to combat online child sex abuse—a good cause, of course—but the latest version of the bill would effectively allow all 50 states to regulate the internet as the choose. The bill lays the groundwork for unprecedented internet censorship. To make matters worse, experts said a previous version of the bill threatened encryption—the very basis of internet privacy. The bill has since been watered down, but Sen. Graham admits that outlawing encryption “will be a debate for another day.”

But isn’t fighting child sex abuse important?

Obviously! But, as Mashable wrote, the devil is in the details. As it’s written now, the bill would give way too much power to state officials to censor the internet as they please. Any censorship would need to be tied, in some way, to child sex abuse, but stretching a law way past it’s original intent would be nothing new. And we live in an era where a growing number of voters—and elected officials!—believe in the bogus Q-Anon pedophilia consipiracy that has tied nearly every opponent of Trump to sex trafficing.

We also have reason to be worried about the rights of protest and dissent in this country. Black Lives Matter protesters have been assaulted by police in full view of cameras and shoved into unmarked vans by unidentified officers. Most of these abuses have only come to light through social media, often after denials by local officials. States and cities are censoring protests with impunity. Now is not the time to give states the power to censor the internet, too.

What can I do?

In July, the Senate Judiciary approved the bill, which means it is now awaiting a vote by the full Senate. You know what that means: it’s time to get on the phones! Call you Senators (the Senate switchboard at (202) 224-3121 will connect you) and tell that that you are worried the Earn It Act will let states squash the next #MeToo or #BlackLivesMatter movement before it gets started.

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