Online privacy experts sound alarm as US Senate bill sparks surveillance fears

A US Senate bill that critics say would enable widespread censorship and surveillance has taken a significant step towards becoming law, raising alarm among internet freedom advocates.

The Senate judiciary committee voted on Thursday to advance the Earn It Act, legislation that on paper is intended to address sexual exploitation. However, privacy experts say the act would give the Department of Justice unprecedented power over the internet and potentially threaten the privacy of messages sent online.

The “Eliminating Abuse and Rampant Neglect of Interactive Technology” (Earn It) Act was introduced in March by the South Carolina Republican Lindsey Graham, Democrat Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut, Republican Josh Hawley of Missouri, and Democrat Dianne Feinstein of California to address what lawmakers characterized as “the rapid increase of child sexual abuse material on prominent online platforms”.

“Technological advances have allowed the online exploitation of children to become much, much worse over recent years,”

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