Two significant bills were put forth in the US this week, both of which are sure to have global consequences if passed. Let’s start with the bad. The Senate has put forth what they’re calling the LAED bill, which is an even worse version of their previous EARN IT bill. It would effectively kill privacy on the Internet, ending end-to-end encryption both on your devices (suppliers would have to build back doors into your phones and laptops), and in transit (they’d have to build backdoors into your communication tools (WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, FaceTime, Zoom, etc…) so they can snoop on your messages as they’re happening). I really wish governments would just stop trying to do this sort of thing. If you build a back door into a technology, it becomes a huge risk and a safety issue for everyone.
I also mentioned a few weeks ago that we should keep an eye on the “section 230” space. As a reminder, “section 230” is the part of the US Federal law that basically makes the Internet as we know it — for better and worse — possible. It’s the liability shield for corporations that says as long as they remove illegal content when they’re notified about it, they can’t be held liable for what their users put on their sites. This fundamental protection is actual fairly critical to the modern Internet, and makes sense. For example, you’re receiving this newsletter via Mailchimp. If I were to write something libelous, in what way would it make sense for Mailchimp to be at fault? Nevertheless, with Twitter putting fact-check notices on the President of the United States tweets, and with Russia and China engaging in cyber warfare through misinformation campaigns, there’s a growing global sense that we must do something.