Lindsey Graham’s new bill would end the internet as we know it

If Sen. Lindsey Graham gets his way, the federal government will launch another attack on online privacy. The South Carolina Republican will ask lawmakers to give Attorney General William Barr and the Department of Justice unchecked access to all of your messaging, file-sharing, and video-sharing tools. That is bad news for just about everyone and a nightmare for those who value digital privacy.

At first glance, Graham’s bill seems innocent enough. After all, it’s called the Eliminating Abusive and Rampant Neglect of Interactive Technologies Act, which seems, on the surface, like a perfectly agreeable proposition. It would assemble a commission to “develop recommended best practices for providers of interactive computer services regarding the prevention of online child exploitation conduct.”

Doesn’t everyone want children to be protected? Well, not so fast. The commission’s “recommendations” would then go to the attorney general, who can approve or disapprove what are essentially new regulations. This means unelected officials would be granted vast power to regulate technology and invade our privacy.

It doesn’t stop there.

These days, most anti-tech legislation targets Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, and this bill is no different. The law would take away Section 230 protections from any internet service that doesn’t comply with the new commission’s “recommendations,” which is what makes them de facto regulations. Without Section 230 protections, it would be impossible to operate services used by millions every day, such as WhatsApp and iMessage.

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