Senators Lindsey Graham and Richard Blumenthal are quietly circulating a serious threat to your free speech and security online. Their proposal would give the Attorney General the power to unilaterally write new rules for how online platforms and
services must operate in order to rely on Section 230, the most important law protecting free speech online. The AG could use this power to force tech companies to undermine our secure and private communications.
We must stop this
dangerous proposal before it sees the light of day. Please tell your members of Congress to reject the so-called EARN IT Act.
The Graham-Blumenthal bill would establish a National Commission on Online Child
Exploitation Prevention tasked with recommending best practices for providers of interactive computer services regarding the prevention of online child exploitation conduct. But the Attorney General would have the power to override the Commission's
recommendations unilaterally. Internet platforms or services that failed to meet the AG's demands could be on the hook for millions of dollars in liability.
It's easy to predict how Attorney General William Barr would use that
power: to break encryption. He's said over and over that he thinks the best practice is to weaken secure messaging systems to give law enforcement access to our private conversations. The Graham-Blumenthal bill would finally give Barr the power to demand
that tech companies obey him or face overwhelming liability from lawsuits based on their users' activities. Such a demand would put encryption providers like WhatsApp and Signal in an awful conundrum: either face the possibility of losing everything in a
single lawsuit or knowingly undermine their own users' security, making all of us more vulnerable to criminals. The law should not pit core values--Internet users' security and expression--against one another.
Graham-Blumenthal bill is anti-speech, anti-security, and anti-innovation. Congress must reject it.
Woody Allen's memoir, Apropos of Nothing, was acquired last week by the publisher Hachette in the US.
The move was quickly condemned by the author's daughter Dylan Farrow, who has alleged that Allen sexually abused her as a child, allegations that
Allen has denied. These allegations have twice been investigated by the authorities but have not led to arrest, charge or prosecution.
Allen's son Ronan Farrow, whose book Catch and Kill --also published by Hachette -- details his investigations
into institutional sexual abuse in the media and Hollywood, also blasted the decision and announced he would no longer work with Hachette.
The Hachette censorship was initiated by Hachette staff in the US who staged a walkout at its New York
offices over the memoir. The publisher then pulled the book, claming that the decision was a difficult one.
Woody Allen's memoir will still be published in France despite its US publisher dropping it, with his French publisher saying that the film
director is not Roman Polanski and that the American situation is not ours.
Offsite Comment: This is the behaviour of censors, not publishers
I do not want to read books that are good for me or that are written by people whose views I always agree with or admire. I am always afraid when a mob, however small and well read, exercises power without any accountability, process
or redress. That frightens me much more than the prospect of Woody Allen's autobiography hitting the bookstores.