EARN IT Draft Legislation Sparks Fears of Encryption Ban on Telegram

While some fear the implications of free speech, EARN IT is also sparking fears about this being the much threatened encryption ban law.

Earlier this month, we reported on the Republican led effort to push for a big government move to regulate online speech. The legislation is known as EARN IT and is currently in draft format. While free speech concerns is a major one for this big government takeover, it isn’t the only one. More fears are circulating that this could be the big government encryption ban that had been mentioned back in December. From CoinSpeaker:

Companies like Apple, Google and Telegram could soon face anti-encryption demands from the government. Democrats and Republicans within the Senate support the new draft bill. They call it the Eliminating Abusive and Rampant Neglect of Interactive Technologies (EARN IT) Act. Thanks to the act, the law enforcement agencies will read communications of people thanks to the presumable encryption ban. In such a case, anyone outside the NSA will see what you send via messengers with ‘build-in end-to-end encryption’.

The secret services already have the decryption keys from a set of software products. However, they have to spend money and talent on breaking into different apps unwilling to cooperate. For instance, the Telegram messenger is the favorite one among crypto users for its privacy features. There are no confirmed cases of Telegram break without the sim-swapping or traffic decryption.

After the ban on encryption, the government will have the ability to browse any chats, with full juridical basis. They present EARN IT act as the tool for fighting child pornography distribution. The companies running cloud servers have some juridical protection right now. Because, thanks to encryption, most of the companies don’t have access to the user’s files and documents.

Many have already warned about dire consequences of banning effective encryption. While some might think that this is all just theoretical scenarios, the reality is, this situation has already played out in Australia. In August of 2018, the government of Australia ignored the advice of knowledgeable expert testimony and pushed to pass anti-encryption laws without evidence. Eventually, Australia followed through with these plans and passed those laws in a rushed process. What ensued was economic and reputational chaos. Innovation and investment experienced a mass exodus from the country. Australian laws quickly contradicted the laws of other countries. Multinational companies blacklisted Australia as a place to do business. Additionally, Australia took those anti-encryption laws and used them to crack down on journalism. Those are just a few of the consequences of those laws of course.

So, really, not only are the fears well founded, but international experience suggests that the fears may even be making light of the potential situation America could find itself in. The thing is, in this situation is that there are two hurdles that face this possible legislation: the upcoming November election and potential court challenges. It’s not to say those hurdles can’t be overcome, but those hurdles do exist for this potential piece of legislation. Still, the fact that a Democrat is on board with this legislation does increase the odds that this legislation will get passed at some point. Given that senators threatened the entire industry with such a law within a year, it sounds like there is a plot to make sure this legislation gets passed.

Drew Wilson on Twitter: @icecube85 and Facebook.

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