With a bill that seeks to tackle the distribution of child abuse material, U.S. legislation will reportedly be introduced in the weeks to come that could hamper the capacity of tech firms to provide end-to-end encryption, Reuters reported.
The bill aims to combat the distribution of that kind of content on platforms such as Google and Facebook by making them liable for civil lawsuits as well as state prosecution. It accomplishes that by threatening a critical immunity named Section 230 that firms have with federal law.
The action is said to be the newest exhibit of how Washington lawmakers and regulators are taking another look at the need for incentives that had aided the growth of digital firms. Those are now reportedly becoming seen more as roadblocks to curtailing extremism, hate speech and online crime.
Section 230 protects some online platforms from being treated as speaker or publisher of the content they publish, and, for the most part, shields them from liability when it comes to what users post. The bill, however, puts this immunity in the crosshairs unless firms follow a set of “best practices” to be set by an attorney general-led commission.
The U.S. tech industry reportedly is worried that those “best practices” will be tapped to condemn a technology for privacy that allows messages to only be decoded by the intended recipient and sender that is known as end-to-end encryption. Federal law enforcement agencies, for their part, have reportedly said those encryptions hamper their probes.
News of the upcoming proposed legislation comes as the a source from the U.S. government told Reuters that the DOJ was summoning a side array of concerned factions to a meeting to evaluate the fate of Section 230 in the Communications Decency Act of 1996. Invited parties reportedly include members of Congress, “thought leaders,” industry representatives, and people from President Donald Trump’s Cabinet.