back to article America's EARN IT Act attacking Section 230 is back – and once again threatening the internet, critics say

The EARN IT Act, a legislative bill intended "to encourage the tech industry to take online child sexual exploitation seriously" has been revived in the US Senate after it died in committee back in 2020. And advocacy groups have once again decried the bill for threatening free speech and access to encryption, and for …

  1. ShadowSystems Silver badge

    How about this instead...

    If a politician proposes a bit of legislation that obviously tramples basic Human rights, the bill gets added to a Wall Of Shame along with current photos of said politicians, so that all future politicians have a visual Warning To Others; meanwhile, the politicians that proposed the bill get flung into space, preferrably towards the Sun, so they stop wasting valuable oxygen the rest of Humanity needs instead?

    Is that a viable option, or do I need to increase my dose of Dried Frog Pills again?


    1. Gene Cash Silver badge

      Re: How about this instead...

      Nope... knowing my politicians, they'd compete with each other to be on the wall.

      1. b0llchit Silver badge

        Re: How about this instead...

        That is a good thing! They'd all get a place on the wall while we get rid of them. What is not to like to get rid of unwanted politicians? We can take down the wall after they are all gone and put on (against) the wall.

        Remember, the survivors write history.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: How about this instead...

          "They'd all get a place on the wall while we get rid of them"

          And there'd be no fighting on who goes where on the wall... everybody would have a good chance to go "somewhere" and even have multiple spots.

        2. SundogUK Silver badge

          Re: How about this instead...

          How are you planning on getting rid of them? I doubt very much being on your wall will have any effect on their electability, so..?

          1. ShadowSystems Silver badge

            Re: How about this instead...

            At SunDogUK. Once a politician gets imortalized on the wall by proposing a Human rights violating bit of legislation, they are then flung into space. There will be no reelecting such people as they will no longer reside on the planet, much less be able to campaign for office.

            *Hands you a pint*

            Drink up, the air will become clearer soon. =-)p

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: How about this instead...

              No, because politicians by default have connections. Any attempt to remove them would have you removed (or in this case, flung into space) instead. That's why politicians can be smug when lined up against the wall: because they know the ones with the guns are actually in their pockets...

      2. NoneSuch Silver badge

        Re: How about this instead...

        "Legislation to punish online services for users' illegal content would damage speech and encryption, it's claimed"

        And this legislation will make rich mega-corps even richer, so swings and roundabouts really.

  2. martinusher Silver badge

    Its an alternative to doing anything useful

    I am absolutely fed up with this excuse for a legislature called the Senate. They can't do anything useful so they cook up badly thought out, intrusive legislation to distract us. They don't give a damn about children or they'd be falling over themselves trying to figure out why we've got such a lot of poverty in the US -- a supposedly rich country -- and why our educational system is such a shambles. (Some state legislatures are falling over themselves finding new ways to hamstring teachers rather than wondering why there's a huge -- and growing -- shortfall of educational staff.) Anyway, this useless bunch of know-nothings just cook up stuff to "play to the gallery" -- elections are coming so they need to play being concerned for the welfare of the people for a few months.

    1. lglethal Silver badge

      Re: Its an alternative to doing anything useful

      'Tis the problem of having an entrenched two party system, there's no room for new voices to be heard, compromises cant be reached, and others who might form a new or breakaway party are unable to.

      An Entrenched Two Party system is barely different to a One Part system - it only operates for one section of the Population. You could almost argue that a One Party System is better, at least they get everything moving in the one direction, rather than flip flopping every few election years. Although, admittedly it's only better for one section of the population...

      If you want to fix American politics, you need to start fighting it, to allow that other party's can be formed. It's incredibly telling that the Tea Party section of the Republicans never broke away from the main party, despite massive calls for them to do so. Those behind the Tea Party realised that leaving the republican fold would relegate them to the wilderness, so they have done their best to take over the Republican Party from within. In a proper democracy, they would have formed a new Party and competed for the Parliament on the same level as the original Republican Party. But in America that's not how it works. And it's why your democracy is failing...

      1. Duncan Macdonald Silver badge

        Re: Its an alternative to doing anything useful - a further problem

        To get elected to any senior political office in the US requires spending more on advertising than the total salary that will be earned from the office.

        This requires candidates to either be so rich that they can fund the campaign themselves or to have rich sponsors. Either way they are biased to support the rich at the expense of the poor. This is why there are so many tax avoidance measures available to the very rich in the US.

        Icon for the US political system =======>

      2. LDS Silver badge

        Re: Its an alternative to doing anything useful

        It's not that countries with many parties may work better than those with a few - the problem is really not that, it's the men and women in those parties - and the people who tags themselves with a party name.

        That's why also some politicians need to conquer a party from the inside - because people vote party "X" or "Y" just following their own tags, instead of assessing who is X and who is Y now.

        You get the democracy citizens vote for - and there are instances when citizens voted to kill it, just to regret it later...

        1. John Riddoch

          Re: Its an alternative to doing anything useful

          I have said it often - some people in America would vote for a dead goldfish, provided it was standing under the correct party. Sometimes it's because they've always voted Republican/Democrat, sometimes it's just because the goldfish wouldn't be the "other person".

          1. Pascal Monett Silver badge

            Yup, that's democracy. The least harmful political system.

            Which doesn't mean that, sometimes, living with a benevolent dictator is not a better solution.

            1. Jason Bloomberg

              Yup, that's democracy. The least harmful political system.

              So we are told but I am not entirely convinced. Though it could be that the democracy we are told we have is no such thing.

            2. badflorist

              A benevolent dictator would be great.

              So would a benevolent democratic leader or a benevolent communist leader or socialist or... A benevolent leader is the goal.

              As a bonus for prosperity, being benevolent does _NOT_ exclude being militant, it simply is...

              1 : kind and generous

              2 : organized to do good things for other people


              1. ThatOne Silver badge

                > A benevolent leader is the goal.

                Won't work, power corrupts. Your "benevolent leader" will cease to be benevolent and will become self-serving in 4, 3, 2...

                Do you really thing that all the incompetent, arrogant, self-serving jerks in power were already like that when they started? All right, many were, but a huge lot were starry-eyed idealists wanting to fight for a better society. Until Reality drove over their illusions, and all which remained was playing The Game, and stuffing one's pockets whenever possible.

                1. ThatOne Silver badge

                  Ah, our two career politicians are back...

            3. bombastic bob Silver badge

              in some places, so-called benevolent dictators end up being capricious and tyrannical, just in different ways - like making chewing gum illegal (Singapore)

              1. badflorist

                " like making chewing gum illegal ..."

                To be fair, a lot of countries have outlawed the "Bazooka"


          2. Charles 9 Silver badge

            Re: Its an alternative to doing anything useful

            Don't you have a similar quote east of the pond? Something along the lines of "He may be a bastard, but he's my bastard"?

      3. John 104

        Re: Its an alternative to doing anything useful

        Well, there was an effort to fix American politics in 2016. A rich buffoon with some good ideas surprised everyone and won the presidency. Instead of helping him along, the liberal establishment (DC, state government, judicial, and press) freaked out and spearheaded a nonstop campaign to discredit and ridicule him at every turn. Granted, he made it easy to do every time he opened his mouth or posted something on twitter...And instead of backing him and making real change, the republican party put up road block after road block because they are part of it too and felt their positions were in jeopardy. Then COVID hit and it was just too easy to blame Trump. The nation was tired of the whole thing by November so they elected (supposedly) an even more idiotic and insidious president/puppet to the white house. Now look where we are... The doorstep of war in Ukraine/Europe, a destroyed economy in the US, back room payouts to pharma and policy gaffe after policy gaffe. Yep, winning!

        The fix? I'm afraid there likely isn't one available when those in power write the laws to keep themselves in office. Revolution? I don't think there is enough will in the US any more to pull that off. People are too complacent and that is the attitude that got the states where they are today.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Its an alternative to doing anything useful

          Since you yourself say Trump was (I quote) a nonsense talking buffoon, why do you expect people to back him up? Why do you even try to defend him? Does he make you feel all warm and fuzzy or what?...

          Get over it already! You've put your bet on the wrong horse, it's over, time to move on!

          1. John 104

            Re: Its an alternative to doing anything useful


            If you are going to quote me, the least you could do is get it right. I mean, it's right there in the text, or did you not even read it? I said rich buffoon...

            Your response is part of the problem in the world. Instead of a rational discourse, its straight to incorrect statements and insults. You might try to slow your roll a bit and actually think about things.

            I never defended Trump, merely made some observations. DC and the establishment had absolutely no idea what to do with someone who wasn't part of the gang. The end result was false Russian conspiracy theories, an impeachment based on these well documented lies, obstruction at every turn, and the afore mentioned hysteria in the press, etc. Yet, somehow, the economy of the US was booming and wages were up, inflation down, foreign policy was in a decent space, and Russia wasn't on the brink of starting another war in Europe. Just imagine what more could have been accomplished if the morons in DC actually made an effort together... Instead, we now have the 'adults' in charge and the country is a fucking disaster. In one year the current administration has just about screwed everything up that the could.

            Nothing in American politics makes me feel warm and fuzzy. Quite the contrary. It's all pretty gross. From 2008 to 2016 we had a hugely divisive and largely ineffective president. In 2016 our choices were Hillary or Trump. Neither one a good candidate. Then in 2020, Trump or Biden, which, to be honest was somehow worse than 2016. What the country needs is rational, responsible, moderate leadership, not just in the presidency, but in the congress and at state levels. It's all gotten so out of control and is so power/money driven that we might as well be ruled by a king or dictator our voice is so ineffective as citizens.

            As for betting on the wrong horse, no one was a winner in 2020. Although, I dare say that having the shit storm that Trump would have been for another term might have been better. The current administration is pretty scary . When you have a press secretary espousing the administrations position to censor free speech, whether it be good or bad, you know we are heading in the wrong (Orwellian) direction. it's frightening. At least with Trump you could count on him saying stupid things, but not prohibiting the citizenry from doing the same...

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Its an alternative to doing anything useful

              "When you have a press secretary espousing the administrations position to censor free speech, whether it be good or bad, you know we are heading in the wrong (Orwellian) direction. it's frightening. At least with Trump you could count on him saying stupid things, but not prohibiting the citizenry from doing the same..."

              Perhaps you can provide sufficient details to elaborate your point. As for the other side, they're no angels, either, given their stance on violent protests and especially education. Which is more Orwellian: controlling what people say or controlling what people learn? And that's nothing against the ongoing breakneck effort to reduce the ability to vote, even for people who are supposed to be able to do so (such as people born there). What next? Election Eve firebombings?

              1. John 104

                Re: Its an alternative to doing anything useful

                Details are fairly easy. Just put this in your browser and marvel at the results:

                psaki censor free speech

                It boils down to if we don't like it, then you should be censored. The most recent being the spotify/Rogan nonsense. At least in this country (USA) you can (or at least used to be able to) say whatever you want in whatever forum you desire. But this administration wants to keep the COVID story as in their control as they can. So, anyone who says otherwise is banned, shut down, whatever. Fine (sort of) if a private company wants to do that, that is their prerogative. But the US government has no business in determining who can and can't say what. I don't agree with the KKK or Nazi sympathizers. However, I'll defend their ability to speak freely even if I find it distasteful. And the US government has no business dictating what can and can't be spoken, written, or whatever.

                As for which is more Orwellian, I'd say both are equal. Speech, learning, discourse, it is all part of a society's ability to think and act based on their thoughts. What we are getting is not how to think, but what to think. And if you speak against that or speak contrary, then you are shut down financially, personally, etc.

                And, sigh, voting rights. I still don't get this one. Every voting law passed in the US recently is about bolstering the right to vote for citizens. FFS, the Georga law actually makes it EASIER to vote by extending days and hours. The continual hysteria from the Democratic party in this country is that black and brown people are too stupid to figure out how to vote and that they are oppressed and its up to us to help them along by not requiring ID to vote. Um. Don't you need an ID to go to school, to drive, to open a bank account, etc? Are these not things that everyone is required to have in this country to do just about anything? It's just a big lie and if people would stop listening to what the politicians are SAYING about it vs what the laws ACTUALLY say, well, I guess we'd have some people pissed for the right reasons...

                Also, thanks for the civil discussion. :)

                1. Charles 9 Silver badge

                  Re: Its an alternative to doing anything useful

                  "I don't agree with the KKK or Nazi sympathizers. However, I'll defend their ability to speak freely even if I find it distasteful. And the US government has no business dictating what can and can't be spoken, written, or whatever."

                  As a Vulcan once said, "The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few." Otherwise, it should be legal to falsely shout "FIRE!" in a crowded theater (see US v. Schenck, 1918). Some limits are necessary because of rights clash. It is the government's position to determine, set, and enforce these limits for everyone's sake. Otherwise, it's just anarchy. And mere words can have power. A certain Nazi once said, "Repeat a lie often enough and it becomes the truth." And it's playing out as we speak. Speaking the truth, even if it is distasteful, is OK. But passing off lies as truth, as well as using words to intimidate or indoctrinate the population should not be okay.

                  "FFS, the Georga law actually makes it EASIER to vote by extending days and hours."

                  In terms of hours, it's a wash because it codifies the "normal business hours" clause as 9 to 5. In terms of days, the sabbath voting (two Sundays for Christians, one Saturday for Jews) had to be backtracked due to backlash. However, early voting was restricted, and provisions in voting lines was curtailed, and ID requirements were notably tightened in ways that disadvantage minorities and itinerants. All this according to the BBC, an outside source. Said source also notes that voter suppression measures are not as overblown as Republicans try to make them out to be. Your own search suggestion only seems to turn up results for conservative-oriented news sources that have trouble standing up to outside scrutiny. If your article can get independent, or even liberal, support, it should stand up better.

    2. bombastic bob Silver badge

      Re: Its an alternative to doing anything useful

      they cook up badly thought out, intrusive legislation to distract us

      That describes pretty much ANY politician, In My Bombastic Opinion.

      if they're going to attack section 230, they need to focus on the provisions that allow CANCEL CULTURE and ONLINE CENSORSHIP to exist without legal ramifications... meaning that if some 60's era burnt out musician wants to censor someone, and if that person GETS CENSORED, then THAT PERSON SHOULD BE ABLE TO SUE OVER IT. But suing (or prosecution) over what THAT PERSON said or posted should not happen at all, except to the one who posted it (assuming the content is libelous or illegal).

      But you know politicians - doing THE RIGHT THING doesn't manipulate voters.

      (I'm not too happy with Lindsay Graham these days anyway, no surprise to see his name on this)

      1. Snake Silver badge

        Re: you are REALLY bombastic

        "meaning that if some 60's era burnt out musician wants to censor someone"

        The only person he "censored" was HIMSELF. He removed himself from a property which means he censored himself, and nobody else (right now).

        So now you want to remove *his* freedom of choice of where, and when, to participate, because you think that he has to, in order to justify your own opinions that he has no rights at all. You think that he needs to stay in situations he personally finds uncomfortable in order to meet YOUR political agendas.

        Stuff off.

        1. Nunyabiznes

          Re: you are REALLY bombastic

          To be fully accurate:

          NY told Spotify to remove JR or to remove him - in an effort to silence JR.

          I'm not sure it was a completely altrusive moment. He got very little revenue from Spotify, and his record label (well the majority owners of his music) had to agree. He stood to lose very little and got some notoriety from the whole dustup. It was probably a net + for him. JR had to make a mealy mouth statement about inclusiveness, and Spotify came out with some bs statement about "correct" information.

          1. John 104

            Re: you are REALLY bombastic

            This is the nuance that seems to be unobserved here. NY has all the right to pull his content, just as I have every right to keep paying Spotify to do what they do. But to take a public stage and use your voice to try to silence someone else just because you don't agree with them is pretty oppressive.

  3. Kevin McMurtrie Silver badge

    Why CSAM?

    There are an enormous number of internet providers that absolutely do not care if their customers are using services for criminal purposes. Not just obscure /24 resellers, but big name providers too. They will peer with openly criminal networks too - no problem.

    I'm always suspicious of "think of the children" selective law enforcement. I can only assume it's driven by ignorance, greed, laziness, guilt, or bribery intense lobbying.

    1. doublelayer Silver badge

      Re: Why CSAM?

      Some may sell to criminals, but that's not surprising. The question is how they react when they know the users are committing crimes. Usually, that's a very different situation. Selling a general-purpose cloud VM means you're going to get someone using it for malicious purposes, probably in the first hour of the product being out there. That's really not the same. There are some bulletproof hosting outfits who do make the products with criminals in mind, but it's a much smaller section of the market and they can also be prosecuted if they do it egregiously.

      "They will peer with openly criminal networks too - no problem."

      What is an openly criminal network, may I ask? Do they have something like the evil bit, maybe somewhere in the routing table, BGP announcements, or maintained by the ASN databases? A company who doesn't act fast enough to take down reported malicious users isn't openly criminal. Even things like North Korea's public IP block aren't openly criminal.

      1. LDS Silver badge

        What is an openly criminal network, may I ask?

        Start here:

        Even the DoD had to start to advertise its blocks to avoid to be used by criminals...

    2. LDS Silver badge

      Re: Why CSAM?

      In a system where you can pay services with stolen credit cards and money mules, and register using fake data what else can happen? But there's money to be made, so that's fine!!!

      Closing accounts is also utterly useless if you can create them at will with not the smallest kind of vetting - that's become just a whack-a-mole game. But again, there's a lot of money to be made - "we had ten billion new users on our platform this week!!!!! So keep on buying ads placements on our platform!!!! We have true data about our users!!!!!"

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The End of the Internet?

    With the current legislative techlash gathering pace, will the internet even survive? Not in its current form I don't think. I only know a little about mesh networks, but it does make me wonder if peer-to-peer networks will represent web 3.0 instead of all the hype about NFTs.

    1. This post has been deleted by its author

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: The End of the Internet?

      Its unlikely to be the end of the internet as we know it also the bill may not end up passing.

    3. Graham Cobb Silver badge

      Re: The End of the Internet?

      I am fairly sure the Internet will survive. It is just too useful, too important and too valuable to have an open network connecting things together.

      What might not survive are a lot of well-known services. Starting with the social media companies. Although any politician deliberately picking a fight with those companies is probably doomed to lose - even if they were proposing something sensible!

      It seems likely that, like with FOSTA, the impact will actually only be felt by the second and third tier Internet services. You can't win a fight with Facebook but you can win one with Telegram. And Facebook will be perfectly happy with that.

  5. msobkow Silver badge

    It is absolutely amazing how much money Hollywood and the music industry in the US spend on trying to buy this illegal legistlation that they've been pushing for a couple of decades now.

    Perhaps they should try using sane pricing and availability of their products instead of doing regional restrictions and trying to fleece people insane amounts just to watch a piece of media for a day or two of streaming. I'm sure if they weren't gouging their customers and hiding their products, piracy would drop to a trickle.

  6. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

    "claiming that online service providers are disinterested "

    Disinterested or uninterested? If they're disinterested they could weigh up arguments and come to a decision without having any motivations of their own to affect that decision. If they're uninterested they wouldn't bother.

  7. Boo Radley

    LGBTQ People

    The fact that it will disproportionately affect LGBTQ people is a feature, not a bug. The right is determined to stamp them out at any cost, so what if all the rest of us suffer the consequences, so long as they can keep the icky gays down and out of sight.

    1. Graham Cobb Silver badge

      Re: LGBTQ People

      No, the Right has a much more subtle approach to LGBTQ rights...

      If you have enough money, you should be able to lead your life any way you choose, with no interference from laws.

      On the other hand, if you don't have enough money, you need to be illegal so you are dependent on a "benefactor" to protect you. One who can (ab)use you any way they like in exchange for keeping you away from the authorities.

      Of course, in order to have a continuing supply of the second category, any LGBTQ poor people who won't accept "working" for a rich benefactor must be very severely and publicly punished.

      1. Charles 9 Silver badge

        Re: LGBTQ People

        In other words, the rich and the slaves: the ultimate endgame, if someone doesn't decide to blow everything up first.

  8. J.G.Harston Silver badge

    Are they also going to prosecute The Postal Service because people can write naughty letters? Are they going to prosecute Bic because people can write with pens? Are they going to prosecute Kimberly-Clerk because Knockers Weeky is printed on paper? Are they going to prosecute BICC because they make wire that electrons carrying pr0n travel along? Are they going to prosecute Nokia because anybody can stuff a camera down their undercrackers and press GO?

    1. Charles 9 Silver badge

      Don't give them any ideas. They just might try to do exactly that to leave the proles dependent on the rich for everything...

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