Why your privacy could be threatened by a bill to protect children

Depending on who you ask, the EARN IT Act could either destroy the fundamental values of an open internet or protect children from being sexually exploited online. The Eliminating Abusive and Rampant Neglect of Interactive Technologies Act, which requires tech companies to meet safety requirements for children online before obtaining immunity from lawsuits, will have its first public hearing on Wednesday.
A bipartisan group of US lawmakers introduced the bill Thursday, saying that the legislation would enforce standards to protect children from sexual exploitation online. The announcement came at the same time the Justice Department hosted a press event to argue that end-to-end encryption protects online predators. 
While few would question the importance of ensuring child safety, technology experts warn that the bill is really just the government's latest attempt to uproot both free speech and security protections online. 
The proposed law has already been met with widespread criticism from security experts, civil liberties advocates and opposing lawmakers. They see the bill as a veiled attempt to erode end-to-end encryption and as a way to target Section 230, an important part of the Communications Decency Act of 1996 that protects free speech by granting tech companies immunity from any liabilities associated with content on their platforms. 
Here's a breakdown of the policy issues surrounding the EARN IT Act, why lawmakers want it and why so many security and privacy experts are against the legislation. 

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