What is the EARN IT Act?

The EARN IT Act of 2020, S. 3398, is a bill that is short on details, but long on consequences. Similar to 2018’s FOSTA-SESTA, EARN IT will expand liability for digital platforms in regards to sex on the Internet. Sex workers, survivors, LGBTQ communities, and young people trying to access health information will face the consequences. Read in-depth about the EARN IT Act here.

Current Status and Next Steps for the EARN IT Act:

Senate: The EARN IT Act has passed out of the Senate Judiciary Committee with recommended amendments.

House of Representatives: The EARN IT Act has not yet been introduced into the House of Representatives, but we expect it to be introduced this year.

What has happened so far with the EARN IT Act and where is it now?

Senate: The EARN IT Act was introduced into the Senate, one of the two parts of Congress, by Sen. Lindsay Graham (Republican, South Carolina) on March 5, 2020.

The bill had already gotten support from Senators Blumenthal (who brought you SESTA, pushed for the closure of Backpage, and calls SESTA a success), Feinstein (Democrat, California), Cramer (Republican, North Dakota), Hawley (Republican, Missouri), Jones (Democrat, Alabama), Casey (Democrat, Pennsylvania), Whitehouse (Democrat, Rhode Island), Ernst (Republican, Iowa) and Durbin (Democrat, Illinois).

Since then it has been supported by Senators Kennedy (Republican, Louisiana), Cruz (Republican, Texas) and Grassley (Republican, Iowa). After being introduced, it was assigned to be reviewed in the Judiciary Committee. On July 20, 2020, amendments were submitted and it was voted out of committee, which means that all the Senators on the Judiciary Committee voted for the bill.

The main addition was that EARN IT could not outright ban encryption, but the commission could make “best practices” that are so stringent that encryption would be impossible without taking on significant liability.

Senators Leahy (Democrat, Vermont), Cornyn (Republican, Texas), Klobuchar (Democrat, Minnesota), Coons (Democrat, Delaware), Sasse (Republican, Nebraska), Hirono (Democrat, Hawaii), Booker (Democrat, New Jersey), Harris (Democrat, California), Tillis (Republican, North Carolina), Crapo (Republican, Idaho), and Blackburn (Republican, Tennessee) and Lee (Republican, Utah)—who expressed reservations and would not pass the bill as it is currently written if it was put up for a larger vote—have come forward in support of the bill as well.

What’s coming up next?

  • Introduction to the House of Representatives. After being introduced, it will be assigned to one to two committees for review.
  • After review, it will go to full vote in the Senate.