On September 11, 2020, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced its intention to significantly expand both the number of people required to submit biometrics during routine immigration applications and the types of biometrics that individuals must surrender. This new rule will apply to immigrants and U.S. citizens alike, and to people of all ages, including, for the first time, children under the age of 14. It would nearly double the number of people from whom DHS would collect biometrics each year, to more than six million. The biometrics DHS plans to collect include palm prints, voice prints, iris scans, facial imaging, and even DNA—which are far more invasive than DHS’s current biometric collection of fingerprints, photographs, and signatures.
The Senate Commerce Committee is considering a bill that, in the name of children’s privacy, creates a system of private surveillance that would force platforms to collect more information on every user, further invading their privacy in the process. The “Kids Online Safety Act” (KOSA) would make platforms the arbiter of what children see online and could hand over significant power, and private data, to third-party identity verification companies like Clear or ID.me.
Lawmakers should be providing real privacy protections for everyone online. KOSA doesn’t do that. Instead, KOSA would likely require everything from Apple’s iMessage, Signal, web browsers, email applications, VPN software, and platforms like Facebook and TikTok to collect more user data. Perhaps even worse, the bill would allow individual state attorneys general to decide what topics pose a risk to the physical and mental health of a minor, and allow them to force online services to remove and block access to that material everywhere, by default. This isn’t safety—it’s censorship.
The U.S. Senate has revived a surveillance bill that would have a lethal impact on privacy, security, and free speech. If Congress passes the EARN IT Act (S.3538), it may become too legally risky for companies to offer encryption services. Instead, they’ll be pressured to scan nearly all online content.
We need your support to stop the EARN IT Act before it gets any farther. The Senate Judiciary Committee has already voted in favor of it. This disastrous bill was first proposed two years ago, and then dropped after overwhelming public resistance. We beat this bill once before, and we can do it again.