Earlier this week, EFF joined the ACLU and 59 partner organizations to send a letter to Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer urging the Senate to reject the STOP CSAM Act. This bill threatens encrypted communications and free speech online, and would actively harm LGBTQ+ people, people seeking reproductive care, and many others. EFF has consistently opposed this legislation. This bill has unacceptable consequences for free speech, privacy, and security that will affect how we connect, communicate, and organize.
TELL CONGRESS NOT TO OUTLAW ENCRYPTED APPS
The STOP CSAM Act, as amended, would lead to censorship of First Amendment protected speech, including speech about reproductive health, sexual orientation and gender identity, and personal experiences related to gender, sex, and sexuality. Even today, without this bill, platforms regularly remove content that has vague ties to sex or sexuality for fear of liability. This would only increase if STOP CSAM incentivized apps and websites to exercise a heavier hand at content moderation.
If enacted, the STOP CSAM Act will also make it more difficult to communicate using end-to-end encryption. End-to-end encrypted communications cannot be read by anyone but the sender or recipient — that means authoritarian governments, malicious third parties, and the platforms themselves can’ read user messages. Offering encrypted services could open apps and websites up to liability, because a court could find that end-to-end encryption services are likely to be used for CSAM, and that merely offering them is reckless.
Congress should not pass this law, which will undermine security and free speech online. Existing law already requires online service providers who have actual knowledge of CSAM on their platforms to report that content to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC), a quasi-government entity that works closely with law enforcement agencies. Congress and the FTC have many tools already at their disposal to tackle CSAM, some of which are not used.