Under the guise of curbing data collection by foreign governments, the RESTRICT Act (Senate Bill 686) would set the stage for a restriction on the use of TikTok, but not do nearly enough to truly protect our private information. Due to undefined mitigation measures coupled with a vague enforcement provision, the bill could also criminalize common practices like using a VPN or side-loading to install a prohibited app.
We all have the right to have private conversations. They’re vital for free and informed self-government. When we want to have private conversations online, encryption makes it possible. Yet Congress is debating, for a third time, the EARN IT Act (S. 1207)—a bill that would threaten encryption, and instead seek to impose universal scanning of our messages, photos, and files.
The EARN IT Act invites all 50 states to regulate internet services, hoping state legislatures will follow a set of “best practices” set by a federal commission stacked with law enforcement agencies. The bill’s supporters want to wipe true end-to-end encryption from the internet, and replace it with scanning software that puts us all in a permanent criminal lineup.
It shouldn't be against the law to provide an encrypted app. But if the STOP CSAM Act passes, it would make it a crime to offer encryption, because it could "facilitate" the sharing of illegal child abuse material (CSAM)—even if there's no evidence that a platform or service intended to do so. The law would undermine digital security for all internet users, impacting private messaging and email app providers, social media platforms, cloud storage providers, and many other internet intermediaries and online services.