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Where 2020 Will Take the Encryption Backdoor Debate

Recently, in a shot heard around the world, the Eliminating Abusive and Rampant Neglect of Interactive Technologies (EARN IT) Act was introduced in the U.S. Senate by Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Josh Hawley (R-MO) and Dianne Feinstein (D-CA). It’s a
manageable read, but if we were to sum it up, we’d say the U.S. government is basically telling Internet services providers to do what they say to fight online child exploitation, or they’ll make us liable for what users do on our platform.

That might sound like not such a big deal, or even reasonable. What – don’t you want to help fight online child exploitation? Ridiculous question. Shouldn’t every company be responsible for how their products are used? That sounds like a yes, too, but wait a minute. Any use? Misuse? Can’t anything be misused? We’re not talking about defects; we’re talking about intentional misuse of a product. Would anyone ever build anything if they were held responsible for its intentional misuse? Pretty sure existing U.S. product liability law doesn’t work that way. Yet.

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