EARN IT Act threatens to END digital privacy, why is the FOSS world silent?

For instance, why doesn’t the Tor website at least have a banner warning about it? Or, even better, a notification in the browser itself?

For those who don’t know, it’s a US anti-encryption bill that has potential to essentially end digital privacy as we know it by putting legal pressure on software and hardware vendors to implement backdoors like those proposed by Apple

After all, an anonymous browser is worthless if you can’t trust your computer to not snitch on you…

The Senate Judiciary Committee has already voted to advance it, the only thing that can stop it now is overwhelming public pushback…

The FOSS community seriously needs to mount a SOPA-style campaign to raise awareness, but instead there’s a deafening silence…


Some nefarious goings on in Blighty also.

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1 day later

The US Senate Judiciary Committee has recently voted in favor of the EARN IT anti-encryption bill, which was recently reintroduced. If it passes, it will pressure software and hardware vendors to incorporate backdoors similar to those proposed by Apple, which will have a lethal impact on privacy and free speech around the globe.

And even if it doesn’t, they will just continue proposing similar measures until one ultimately passes.

They only need to win once to take away our privacy, but we must win every time to keep it, which means we we must fight back as hard as we can every time they try. But we do not.

By all accounts, the FOSS community should have already launched a web campaign against it (carefully, targeting just US users with banners to avoid provoking undemocratic countries into restricting privacy even further).

All popular FOSS apps, even those not related to privacy (LibreOffice, GIMP, VLC, etc.), should have participated, as reaching outside the tech nerd bubble is obviously crucial.

Instead, all we got is a deafening silence…

  • No warning banners anywhere. Not even on the Tor website.

  • The r/linux post wasn’t stickied as it should have been, and was thus quickly buried.

  • Many FOSS sources such as OMG Ubuntu, Fossbytes, and LWN, as well as blogs of many privacy organizations such as FSF, Tor, and Matrix, have never covered the reintroduction of the bill.

  • And those who do cover it don’t seem to treat it as the apocalyptic threat it is. Like, say, placing the news on the front page until the danger passes.

If you don’t keep up with tech and privacy issues on a regular basis, you could easily overlook this entire menace… That is, until it’s too late and your messenger reveals that end-to-end encryption is being phased off…

Seriously, people? Are we going to let them drag us into a digital dystopia without much of a fight?

This might sound a bit harsh, but It might be a surprise to you that the US is in fact not the center of the known universe. Even though this is of course something to be watched and to be protested locally, over 95% of all people in this world (like on global sites like here as well as reddit) just can’t influence it in any meaningful way and therefore it has limited relevance to them.

How would you feel if you are flooded daily with similar topics from any of the other 190+ countries in this world? Would be just as passionate about influencing a similar law in India, possibly affecting far more people? Would you fly to India and protest against their government?

Be locally aware and if you can influence it, absolutely do something about it. Don’t expect people from all over the world to care though what happens in a very small, different part of the globe.

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Actually lokodlare, some in humanity have a long history of caring what happens in other places.

The Tor Project is currenly a US non profit. Bullying companies building on Tor or the Tor Project itself, out of the United States, will needlessly drain valuable resources; and will negatively impact all of us. This is not without precedent.

Why else do people go to the effort of setting up relays & bridges, if not for helping other random people around the planet?

I’m sure we agree on many things.

On the relay operators email list I’ve found it helpful to read what operators in other countries have posted regarding their experiences. And I’m very appreciative it’s most often in English! :slight_smile:

I encourage all US Citizens to use EFF’s form to object to the proposed bill.

Likewise lokodlare, I think it’s a good idea, if you are attacked or under threat for your use of Tor, please write the forums or email lists in a safe way, I definitely think it’s a good idea for that info to be shared.

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