The EARN IT Act Is Back

Senators have reintroduced the EARN IT Act, requiring social media companies (among others) to administer a massive surveillance operation on their users:

A group of lawmakers led by Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) and Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) have re-introduced the EARN IT Act, an incredibly unpopular bill from 2020 that was dropped in the face of overwhelming opposition. Let’s be clear: the new EARN IT Act would pave the way for a massive new surveillance system, run by private companies, that would roll back some of the most important privacy and security features in technology used by people around the globe. It’s a framework for private actors to scan every message sent online and report violations to law enforcement. And it might not stop there. The EARN IT Act could ensure that anything hosted online—backups, websites, cloud photos, and more—is scanned.

Slashdot thread.

Posted on February 4, 2022 at 9:44 AM53 Comments


Winter February 4, 2022 10:04 AM

I always get the impression that Americans are not so much citizens, as subjects in the eyes of their “representatives”. However, that is not much different in other Anglo-Saxon countries, as well as in countries aligned with Russia and China.

In the eye of these politicians, the people are the enemy.

bradock9 February 4, 2022 10:15 AM

… well, it’s a constant in world history for governments to seek control over the populace by restricting permissible speech and expression.
America is no exception, although that pesky 1st Amendment slows down our beloved rulers a little bit.

The open internet is a huge threat to the many authoritarians in government power — and they relentlessly strive to control it.
Forcing 3rd Party companies to police speech is the current preferred tactic.

U.S. Republicans in government were formerly the major drivers of government speech restriction, but now the Democrats have vigorously embraced it to crush ideological opposition.

JonKnowsNothing February 4, 2022 10:28 AM

@Winter, @All

Over on Emptywheel, the continuing analysis of the legal issues for the Dec37 group is chock-a-block full of all sorts of interesting information that’s been gathered using current legal methods.

It’s rather eye popping what all they have from “secret or encrypted” services where the exchanges are about as encrypted as Plain Text. It’s stuff that goes back days, weeks, and months.

Some delete functions only work for your local copy – maybe (1).

The breath of information retrieved illustrates:

  The Emperor Has No Clothes, and Neither Do The Peasants.


1) Some delete functions only work on your local copy or copy-paste buffer. They don’t clean archives, backups, off-lines or auto-roll-backs copies the OS/SW-App makes.

Winter February 4, 2022 10:49 AM

“Some delete functions only work for your local copy – maybe (1).”

Bits are like garbage: Unless they are incinerated and the smoke has been blown away, they are still there.

If the bits have been backed up unencrypted, they are there for eternity.

anonymous February 4, 2022 10:57 AM

As soon as some member of Congress gets their private messages and photos hacked and posted publicly online, all this nonsense will go away.

Clive Robinson February 4, 2022 12:17 PM

@ Bruce, ALL,

With regards his little snippet,

“the new EARN IT Act would pave the way for a massive new surveillance system, run by private companies, that would roll back some of the most important privacy and security features in technology used by people around the globe.”

Whilst the bit I’ve not highlighted is true…

Consider what I have highlighted with a little more care. I don’t think that statment has been thought through enough. Whilst it would be true in the US and maybe Australia and some other WASP First world nations I suspect that the actual result will be,

1, Initialy more National Great Firewalls.
2, Progressing to near full fragmentation and Balkanisation.
3, The Internet as we currently understand it will fairly quickly cease to exist.

I give it maybe a decade…

It would be interesting to here what others think in this respect.

Ted February 4, 2022 1:35 PM

Sen. Lindsey Graham‘s 6-year Senate term is up on January 3, 2027. He must feel like he has a lot of time and room to throw his feet on the desk.

Does everyone love the bill’s acronym? It was an obvious choice from the bill’s very straightforward and descriptive long name – the Eliminating Abusive and Rampant Neglect of Interactive Technologies Act.

Clive Robinson February 4, 2022 2:46 PM

@ Ted,

Does everyone love the bill’s acronym?

In recent times this sillyness appears to have taken over from politicians buting song lines from the likes of Rick Astely in their speeches…

Yeh childish in the extream, but when Politico’s think they are being clever what do you realy expect?

OK I put my hand up to misquoting songs, sonets, plays and even sayings for “effect” but I clearly indicate it with something like “To misquote Bill Shakespear…” or similar.

I used to do entire song changes on the fly back when my son was young because it made him almost cry with laughter espesialy when I used to do a (C)Rap Song 😉

It’s just to simple to do. I first started doing it in junior school half a century or so ago with “Hymns” in “Assembly” because others would laugh so much it would atleast cure my boredom. No not clever than and especially not clever for Politico’s, in fact it’s actually realy quite rude of them as in effect they are “giving it the bird” to all the voters.

J.J. Jameson February 4, 2022 3:14 PM

Google and Facebook would love this as it would make anything they do, legal. Or actually legally mandated.

John Brown February 4, 2022 3:40 PM

@Winter China’s government is run in the interests of the Chinese people.

The Ammurrican empire and all its satraps from Australia to Ukraine is run in the interests of a foreign people. It’s that simple.

Winter February 4, 2022 3:44 PM

@John Brown
“China’s government is run in the interests of the Chinese people.”

When you say it, it must be true.

And any Chinese person who says otherwise will never again be heard of.

disturbing_silences February 4, 2022 4:17 PM

SARS-2 failures:

2010 film: NSA website.

and they just want to EARN IT ALL?

Where is the real Limited Reports?

by 2026-28 full location lockin, if not defacto now.

vas pup February 4, 2022 4:25 PM

Orwell wrote his ‘1984’, as warning but now unfortunately it is used by Manual for privacy abuse.

Wannab techguy February 4, 2022 4:53 PM

“Forcing 3rd Party companies to police speech is the current preferred tactic.”
Forcing? I don’t think so. They are very willing allies!

Frank Wilhoit February 4, 2022 5:43 PM


This is why the invention of radio made “securing” “national” “borders” impossible and, more importantly, irrelevant — and why the political imperatives that you diagnose will require, sooner than later, that all radio-based technology be put beyond use.

Two hundred years ago, it was universally understood that national borders were things that neither persons, nor goods, nor money, nor information should routinely cross — meaning, not that no such crossing should ever occur, but that each such crossing was inherently exceptional and, in principle, required scrutiny at sovereign level.

Today, that understanding has been abandoned. Furthermore, we see that information is the only one of those things that really matters. Ask any dictator (and there is always a dictator, be it a person, or a faction, or an ideology) and they will tell you that if information can cross a border, then it does not even matter whether or not persons or goods or money also can.

As you point out, we have now devolved to the point where the emotional cost of the consequences of a negligent attitude towards border crossings can no longer be borne. It will accordingly be necessary to totally close all borders for at least two human lifespans: the first one to forget that fact that borders were once open, the second to forget the idea that borders might be open. The first corollary is the decommissioning of all radio-based technology, as mentioned above. The second corollary is that any borders that cannot be closed must, perforce, be abolished.

SpaceLifeForm February 4, 2022 6:07 PM

@ Wannab techguy, ALL
It’s easy to spot the players.

Read their statements on Section 230.

If they argue against Section 230 while screaming 1st Amendment, then you know that their platform is really all about propaganda.

It really is that easy to spot.

They want to allow propaganda to spread easily, but they do want to care or have any responsibility.

Moderation is hard and costs money.

Facebook is barely making ends meet, they would tell Congress.

Freezing_in_Brazil February 4, 2022 6:22 PM

This is extraordinary news. It really shooked me when I heard. Unfortunately lies, ignorance and mystification are informing all this debate [or lack thereof] on a vital aspect of life – the single most important one as far as I’m concerned. I can hardly believe that the Americans are falling for it with so little opposition or discussion.

Maybe this is some kind of hyperproblem, where people are heplessly incapable to grasp in its completude. I never thought I’d be living in times like these.

ResearcherZero February 4, 2022 10:01 PM

Free speech is not very popular with politicians anymore.

“Palin’s lawyers aren’t commenting ahead of the trial”

Maybe they should be concentrating on corruption, that is generally how one reduces crime. Prohibition exacerbated crime, and drove up the price and availability of illicit goods.

After all isn’t corruption how a government is infiltrated, spookery 101, or is that a printing error in my handbook?

But if people have Free Speech, then they might say things that politicians don’t like. What they have been up to specifically, and it’s not just parties.

Politicians make errors too. Do they not want to own up, and hence be forgiven, forgiveness being a very Christian virtue? Or would politicians prefer to entirely remove the right to be criticized?

Jesus said, “Turn the Other Cheek”. Are our politicians not big enough and humble enough to do the same?

“Here’s their new idea: instead of giving a 19-person federal commission, dominated by law enforcement, the power to regulate the Internet, the bill now effectively gives that power to state legislatures.”

More than a third of these cases involve minor crimes like theft and check kiting. Another 20% is comprised of “sex crimes,” which encompasses prostitution — a crime where law enforcement sometimes chooses to believe the device itself is an “instrument of crime,” never mind what other evidence might be hidden inside it.

So, more than half the crime involving locked phones isn’t the sort of stuff that suggests encryption backdoors are the key to making New York City a safer place to reside. The stuff Vance throws in about unlocked devices producing exonerating evidence is a dodge. It’s meant to show how granting law enforcement carte blanche access would be a net benefit for the public. But the examples given use stuff like cell site location info and social media app data — things that could be obtained from third parties without having to go through the locked phone.

Are Cell Phones ‘Instruments of Crime’?

The big controversy centers around sex workers, and how law enforcement in Allegheny County routinely arrest and charge sex workers with both prostitution and possession of an instrument of crime, if the arrestee has a cell phone. And if you’re wondering what the big deal is, before sex workers had to worry about a cell phone earning them an extra serious criminal charge, condoms were being considered instruments of crime.

Ted February 4, 2022 10:36 PM

@Wannab techguy

Like @SpaceLifeForm said, I agree that content moderation is hard and I would find it difficult to believe that a great many service providers want more liability in this area.

From what I understand, the EARN IT Act would open up service providers to more litigation. They would have new responsibilities to meet ‘to-be-determined’ practices for policing customer content for child sexual abuse. These practices are anticipated to expose customers and their data to a myriad of harms.

I can’t imagine most providers want to get entangled in a complex web of liability and customer outrage. There are better approaches for dealing with child sexual abuse. However, while we’re talking about this, did you have an idea of which providers would be “very willing allies”? I concede there could be more than I realize.

JonKnowsNothing February 5, 2022 12:35 AM

@ ResearcherZero

re: Free speech is not very popular … anymore.

Different countries have different rules on What’s In and What’s Out. There isn’t any single standard.

Some countries have “constitutions” with “bills of rights” and some do not. There isn’t any single standard.

Some bills of rights have zero rights in the base class and others have twenty or more rights in their base class. There isn’t any single standard.

In the USA, there’s a lot written, and spoken about “freedom of speech”. A very good place to experience this is in front of the US Supreme Court on hearing days. In front (pre-Covid of course), the street is partitioned with GroupA on one side and GroupB on the other. They can shout and yell til they go hoarse or the cows come home. That’s an example of free speech.

When someone steps across the line and slugs someone on the other side. That’s not free speech, it’s assault. Penalties vary. The Governor of Montana assaulted and slugged a reporter. The Governor claimed he didn’t like the question the reporter asked. He was luckier than others and remains Governor of Montana.

You can see regular melees in some governments, where the decorum of the room descends into fisticuffs or worse. That’s not free speech. From outside it looks a bit like Pro-Wrestling.

Corporations are not directly responsible for free speech. They maybe indirectly responsible and they have rights to curtail some speech that they do not like, such as Union Speech and Union Organizing. How much they are allowed to curtail varies by country. Someplaces it None and someplaces it’s All.

In the USA certain companies are part of the “infrastructure” and they have other responsibilities for free speech and public access. The definitions change often.

Companies like FB/Met/Twit/Gog have zero requirements to provide free speech. It is unfortunate that global governments have resorted to Government by Twitter Edicts and have given the population a false idea that using these platforms gives them 100% rights of free speech that they would have in front of the SCOTUS building. People have no rights to free speech on those platforms. They get whatever variable threshold of speech the company tolerates or that brings in the most revenue.

So when you make the statement about free speech, you need to better qualify exactly which type of speech and what venue. (1)

1) iirc(badly) RL tl;dr

Locally, there is a group of people who are unhappy about a place name and want the name changed. This group consists primarily of people who do not live in or near the place in question. They have been directed to conduct outreach to the @3,600 people who live in that place and get their input on if they want to change the name and if they do want to change the name, what name would they select as a replacement. The group of people who do not live in that place have a list of names they would like but have yet to do any outreach.

At a public hearing, when given their turn at the open mic, one of the self-appointed spokespersons for the group advocating change of name, complained about the process and “turned their back to the panel” in protest.

The person was ejected from the meeting.

Free speech is limited in many places and ways. It does make for good press.

Good press is also about selling news and getting paid for the article. This has nothing to do with free speech or with contacting 3,600 people to see what they want or don’t want.

JonKnowsNothing February 5, 2022 12:46 AM

@ ResearcherZero • February 4, 2022 10:01 PM

fyi: Palin is sick with COVID. She is a NoMaskNoVax. It may be unreasonable to expect her to do anything much in the near term.

Clive Robinson February 5, 2022 4:03 AM

@ JonKnowsNothing, ResearcherZero,

It may be unreasonable to expect her to do anything much in the near term.

There are a couple of pithy/snide retorts that could easily be made…

And I’m bitting my tongue hard 😉

Denton Scratch February 5, 2022 5:05 AM


3, The Internet as we currently understand it will fairly quickly cease to exist.

Oh, my goodness. Hyperbole much?

The internet, at least as I know it, is a bit more than a bunch of mutually-incompatible messaging systems.

From what I can see, the bill proposes to make service operators liable for user-generated content passing through their systems. That would presumably include things like web forums and message-boards. But I don’t see how it can touch offshore operators. Users would still be able to use non-US messaging services and web hosts.

All the bill can touch is stuff users store on servers owned by US corporations. So Don’t Do That Then! Run your own mailserver; or use ProtonMail. Look out for new messaging services based outside the US (and dump your shares in US tech firms). If you must use a cloud provider to host a messageboard, use one based offshore.

The fundamental challenge is right there on the face of the bill itself:

The Administrator shall enable the development of information technology solutions and the creation and acquisition of innovative tools to implement updates, improvements, and modernization needed to enhance efforts to combat online child exploitation in order to ensure that consistent, actionable information is provided to law enforcement agencies, including Internet Crimes Against Children (commonly known as ‘ICAC’) task forces.

That provision is essentially saying that this is going to rely on technology that hasn’t been invented. It’s a call for the enabling of magic. And it also calls for “not less than” a million a year to be set aside for developing that magic.

Every attempt to regulate how the internet can be used has failed; spam still flows freely, hacking and ransomware are rife. Legislative proposals like this can never achieve their purported goals. They are basically crowdpleasers (for a certain kind of crowd).

So it might harm the privacy of users that don’t know how to take countermeasures; sure, and that’s not good. But it would drive the development of packaged, user-friendly countermeasures. Geeky stuff like VPNs and tunnels don’t have to be geeky; they can be commodified.

Winter February 5, 2022 5:44 AM

@John Brown
“a bleating imperial subject who has never left Ammurrica says what?”

If there are no arguments left, only insults remain.

Furthermore does this insult show you have no interest at all in the people you converse with. I am not an American, but I have seen quite some parts of the world. Have you?

Clive Robinson February 5, 2022 8:26 AM

@ Denton Scratch,

Oh, my goodness. Hyperbole much?


And actually understand what it really implies.

lurker February 5, 2022 3:17 PM

@Denton Scratch

All the bill can touch is stuff users store on servers owned by US corporations. […] If you must use a cloud provider to host a messageboard, use one based offshore.

You have a small(ish) problem of internet traffic which passes through the U.S.A. or any of its “territories”, and how to avoid such routing of traffic without the prior knowledge or consent of either sender or receiver. Because the internet is designed to route traffic wherever it thinks is best, does this mean the sender/receiver must have had implicit knowledge that the traffic would or might pass through the US?

JonKnowsNothing February 5, 2022 7:52 PM

@lurker, @Denton Scratch, @All

re:the internet is designed to route traffic wherever it thinks is best

There are others who can probably shed more light on this topic but to start:

In the USA, there are segments upon segments. It’s a very big tree with lots of nodes. Down at the leaf nodes are corporations and users depending where the leaf exits the branch.

As the traffic bubbles up from the leaf nodes, there are many places where the routing takes place and alternate routing happens. Some routers send traffic in multiple directions at the same time, each portion in a subdivided set of packets. There’s something of a race condition on the receiving end as the packets come in for re-assembly in a FirstIn Order.

Unused-duplicated packets are “dropped” by the receiver, but they still traveled along some path before being dropped.

As this process continues to percolate upwards, it’s repeated many times. There are packets flying everywhere and for the most part the leaf nodes have little or no control over the pathways unless they are using one of the high security paths (banks). Ordinary people don’t get access to that, so things go through a huge router shyt-storm-sieve.

In addition to general packets, there are VOIP protocol packets. They are just packets but they contain Telephony Protocol Data. The point here is that when you speak the sound is in Wave Form and is converted to Digital Form. Depending on who, where and what level of the tree the routers sit, the VOIP packets eventually pass into something that can decode the Telephony Protocol.

The Telephony Protocols are very old and don’t change much because the the techniques really haven’t altered other than from analog to digital and the systems retain Backwards Compatibility to the Beginning of Time (1).

In voice systems there are standards for ‘bundling’ voice lines together into a single packet (T1). The sending router aggregates n-number of voice channels and pipes them out the internet. The receiving router unscrambles the voice channels and the terminal one sends only the re-glued stream from the many re-glued packets to the final-terminal phone.

The number of channels depends on the type of system: T1, SONET/SDH among others.

So, what that all means, is that data+voice stream is split many times, and transported every which way.

The router routing-table is setup at the upper tiers in the tree which sets “preferred pathways” for directing incoming and outgoing packets. Most of this is way out of the scope for an end user to alter.

It is not out of scope for 3Ls-All to direct both data packets and data-voice packets anywhere they want and they do.

If you are hoping to not get netted by a 3L-All, then your small hope is to drop all digital transactions, no matter what the source or reason, moving to un-tech/no-tech.

This is actually easier than it may seem.

The 3Ls-All in conjunction with tech manufacturing and neocon+neoliberal+libertarian view of Everything-Must-Be-Done-On-Line, drives out millions of people who do not have access to the tech required.

This prevents people from accessing government services because they cannot use the web interface portals or their phones only support text and talk so apps don’t work. (2)

From the government view, this is a good thing because they can report that fewer people applied for supports and they don’t have to pay for the ones that get shut out.

The 3Ls-All might not agree because for everyone that drops off the internet radar that is one less straw in the haystack.


Search Terms:

Time-division multiplexing, Framing

1) Something that has changed in this area, is that manufactures can de facto remove backwards compatibility by no longer incorporating the old standards.

It maybe they are only deprecating transmission methods but it’s possible they can also deprecate Voice Protocols.

2) Disclosure: Revamped sites, deprecated access methods, faulty form logic and inadequate automated-only tech support scripts have impacted services that I’ve needed. Everything from Banking, to Financial, to Healthcare and many others. With no methods for non-technical access, things are trending down.

lurker February 6, 2022 12:02 AM

@JonKnowsNothing, Denton Scratch
“In the USA, there are segments upon segments …”

I assume “segments” is a polite word for something nasty. @Denton Scratch was attempting to offer advice to @Clive (!) on the use of “offshore” facilities.
Clive and myself are both “offshore” w.r.t. U.S.A., but I suspect our traffic might be routed such that it becomes subject to this Bill. Our traffic may be so routed “inadvertently” when the TLA responsible is actually looking for somebody else. But we would be deemed guilty if our traffic in anyway contravened this Bill.

Hence @Clive’s suggestions that the only practical way to avoid this at present is

1, Initialy more National Great Firewalls.
2, Progressing to near full fragmentation and Balkanisation.
3, The Internet as we currently understand it will fairly quickly cease to exist.

That is a consummation devoutly to be avoided…

JonKnowsNothing February 6, 2022 1:51 AM

@lurker , @Denton Scratch, @Clive

re: our traffic might be routed

An important point to remember about routed traffic:

Some network models use an image of a car on a highway, going down a defined lane, with a defined start and defined finish.

Hijacked traffic (MITM) is where the car takes an unexpected detour and then returns to the road and destination.

However, it’s more like a newsletter, with thousands and thousands of copies, sent by many methods, land, sea, air and camel, of which one ends up in your mailbox.

Of the other thousands you have no idea where they are or where they are going.

So it is not a continuous single line from Source to Destination,(eg You to Me), it is a many branched set of lines of which only one goes from (You to Me), all the others go (Somewhere Else to Someone Else).

  The originating signal (S) / branches repeatedly (S) / Of which (1/S) hits the destination (D).

  All the unused branches (S*-1) are supposed to be dropped, but they may not be.

So when you think “traffic”, you need to think in the plural.

  • The noun traffic is uncountable. The plural form of traffic is also traffic.

The Other Anonymous February 6, 2022 2:06 AM

anonymous • February 4, 2022

As soon as some member of Congress gets their private messages and photos
hacked and posted publicly online, all this nonsense will go away.

No. They will instead carve out some exemption in the law for themselves.

JonKnowsNothing February 6, 2022 2:22 AM

@lurker , @Denton Scratch, @Clive

re: Route Traffic Capture

iirc(badly) Some years ago, reports surfaced of massive installations of routers being installed on the USA internal internet backbone.

These are 2 massive fiber rings split along the Mississippi River: East Coast, West Coast. Many and all other internal rings branch off from these.

Along the primary backbone, these large routers were installed and all traffic was available for capture as they passed through them. These routers were not under the control of the ISPs and backbone providers. They were installed by the USA-3Ls.

International traffic has a different capture point where the sea cables make landing.

There are several possible legal ways all the traffic on the US backbone can be collected: jurisdiction hoping is the easiest. Roll the traffic through a splitter and sent the splitter copy over a border and collect the splitter version on the return (loopback). The original traffic is sent on unimpeded.

ymmv by now the 3Ls must have a bazillion streamed copies of Ground Hog Day.

Clive Robinson February 6, 2022 3:47 AM

@ lurker, ALL,

That is a consummation devoutly to be avoided…

Yes, but I think it cannot be avoided, hence my third point.

The “stray packet” issue of non “circuit switched”(aka phone) but “packet switched”(aka IP) networks is stopped by my first point.

But as we see with both China and Russia, “politicians will be politicians” who see no benifit in defence, only offence. So they will turn the first point into a censoring system of their own and thus keep their citizens away from freely communicating with the rest of the world. Hence my second point, which with a little more “political input” will “close the borders” on the Internet, which makes my third point.

Now if anyone can think of an actual real world way to stop this I’d be happy to hear it as I suspect would many others.

PattiM February 6, 2022 11:13 AM

Chomsky has repeatedly pointed out that the citizens are the “enemy” of the ruling class, including in the US.

JonKnowsNothing February 6, 2022 11:28 AM

@lurker , @Denton Scratch, @Clive

re: a censoring system of their own and thus keep their citizens away from freely communicating with the rest of the world

The risk to “free communications” is very high.

A packet is a packet, data or voice

  • A data packet has “non-voice data”. Text, images etc.
  • A voice packet has a “digital encode voice pattern”. Analog to Digital.

The voice packet does not have “voice” only the digital equivalent. This is very handy when 3Ls are asked if they collect voice. In some cases they can truthfully say they do not, as there is no “voice” in voice packets.

Further the number of voice patterns needed to make intelligible words is very low. (1)

If you have a packet stream of 1k segments, they don’t need all 1k to figure out what’s what and they don’t need to fully reassemble it from 1-1k in one piece.(2) They can reassemble any grouping they want, within whatever limitations or rules they adhere to (1-100, 101-800, 801-1k).

This is similar to any wave or audio editor where you can cut, break and mix audio streams. Movie and Music Editors have the same capability, except they take as input an intact stream, and their output is an altered stream or short segment. Home editors can stitch small streams into bigger ones (appended) to make music compilations (common before playlists).

In USA, LEAs+3Ls can request CDRs (Call Detail Records) which are timestamps of calls: from, to, duration. The CDR does not contain the voice or digital imprint of the call; it’s a billing format. CDR retention is 20+ years.

When LEA+3Ls use WireTap Laws to “hear” voice, they have to have an active live tap, with audio recording system. However, these can only collect “current or future” voice exchanges. (3) Audio wave streams are much larger in size and they have their own encoding system (magnetic tape). LEA-3Ls can use digital too but that is not the audio wave form.

To hear “historical” exchanges 3Ls can pull in the stored VOIP packets based on CDR indexing, and “listen” to the reconstructed conversations going back as far as their historical archive.


1) In a recent MSM article a BIGDOG 3Ler claiming they couldn’t hear….

2) Telephony protocols require all numbered packet streams to be counted.

3) US Presidents often forget that every conversation in the White House has the audio recorded.

There is a rather tragic recording of President Lyndon Johnson deciding about the Viet Nam war after being told what turned out to be a pack of lies by the Military Industrial Complex to get his approval to retaliate with military force.

His anguish at the potential of killing so many is plain. The M-I-C assured him their lies were true, they had forged pictures and falsified communiques to prove it. (4)

In public, he put on a brave face, at a terrible cost.

jones February 6, 2022 12:37 PM

Isn’t this the logical next step after eliminating net neutrality?

Net neutrality is a form of common carrier policy — this is the legal doctrine tht protects, for example, letter carriers if they unknowingly deliver something harmful through the mail (a bomb, child porn, anthrax, etc.).

But if telecommunications companies are now a) inspecting traffic, b) discriminating based on traffic, and have already established a precedent for c) enforcing copyright, then isn’t something like this proposed legislation the next step?

I mean, if telcos are aware of something harmful on their network but do nothing, the rollback of net neutrality puts them in a position of enforcement liability.

Peter A. February 7, 2022 4:03 AM

I haven’t read the bill proposal, but I assume from the comments that it mandates US companies scan everything that passes through them for whatever “bad things” the government demands. So they will not offer encryption for their users or only fake it (keeping the keys).

So what will happen according to the bill, if one person’s data, encrypted by that person to a key known by that person only (assuming the process has not been compromised somehow) goes through an US company, either deliberately or unknowingly? What the company is mandated to do with bits that do not have an obvious meaning and purpose?

For example, I blatantly upload an encrypted file (or just a bunch of bits pulled out my /dev/urandom) to AWS S3, US East region. Is the file going to be deleted or my account dropped? Or I set up an encrypted tunnel between Liechtenstein and Lesotho, which gets “accidentally” routed through the US “digital soil”. Is the US ISP obligated to drop the packets because they contain “garbage”?

Clive Robinson February 7, 2022 7:26 AM

@ Peter A.,

Is the US ISP obligated to drop the packets because they contain “garbage”?

It’s not “garbage” but an “uninteligable message” sent by agency of an individual.

Thus you come to the judgment of an “observer” about the “intentions” of the “Directing mind”.

The observer can make “claims” which although unfounded, force the Directing mind into a disadvantageous position, where by they have to defend themselves in a “combat of arms” where they have no “equity of arms”.

You will see this occure more and more frequently. Eventually the use of say a VPN or SecureDNS will be treated by a service provider to terminate your service.

Thereby your choice is the Privacy of enforced issolation, or being stripped naked for the benifit of others. So back to the old choice of “Prison or Prostitution” which kept women effectively enslaved…

Aaron February 7, 2022 10:33 AM

EARN IT is just an entry to more angles for social credit systems. It’s just more politicians thinking they can control a global network and that because it exists it MUST have laws and THEY are in control… The more they tighten their grip, the more users will slip through their fingers.

JonKnowsNothing February 7, 2022 11:01 AM

@jones, @all

re: if telecommunications companies are now a) inspecting traffic

There are several aspects to consider about “inspecting traffic”.

  • All digital traffic IS inspected.

However, there are 2 portions that are subject to Inspection and Not Inspected.

  • Header
    The header fields contain all the routing information about the packet. This is inspected completely and at every decision point in the pathway. (sender, receiver, originating source, terminal destination)
  • Data
    The data portion may be omitted from inspection because it has no bearing on the transmission and delivery path.

What is being targeted is the data portion. Not only the contents (as real information) but the format (presentation: plain text, encrypted) and structure (pdf, jpg)

The 3LsAll already have the full packet (header+data), and they have the entire packet stream. However, they have restrictions on the Data portion, although in the USA, FISA has made much of those restrictions irrelevant.

If they can push the inspection of the data portion down stream, then the 3LsAll will have few restrictions on using the data portion, through various US laws, such as 3d Party Data/Business Records.


search terms

  • IPv6 packet header has a size of 40 octets (320 bits)
  • IPv4 header is variable in size due to the optional 14th field (options). The maximum size of the IPv4 header is 15 × 32 bits = 480 bits = 60 bytes.
  • IP fragmentation is an Internet Protocol (IP) process that breaks packets into smaller pieces (fragments)
  • IPv6 payload / maximum transmission unit (MTU)

Grima Squeakersen February 7, 2022 1:57 PM

@PattiM re: “citizens are the ‘enemy’ of the ruling class” – Only those citizens who are knowledgeable and assertive of their individual rights. To their rulers, the remaining vast horde of bipedal herd animals is naught but an exploitable and expendable resource.

lurker February 7, 2022 1:59 PM

@PeterA, Clive Robinson, JKN

It doesn’t matter if what is sent is “garbage”, it doesn’t matter that packets are already being inspected; what matters is if any telco anywhere drops a packet because US law tells him to: that is the Balkanization of the net that @Clive and many others fear.

China has been allowed to get away with firewalling its territory. But a long history of extraterritorial judicial adventures shouldn’t give the US the right to randomly firewall the rest of the world.

vas pup February 7, 2022 6:03 PM

The root problem of all of those moves in the old but very living quote:

“If you give me six lines written by the hand
of the most honest of men, I will find something
in them which will hang him.”

Conclusion: as much personal information is collected and x-refed the higher possibility to selectively utilize it for prosecution.
Now, in 21 century it is required less than six lines, but rather couple posts on social media, blogs, you name it to follow in the footsteps of Cardinal Richelieu.

Steven February 7, 2022 6:18 PM

There was an interesting comment by a law student in the Slashdot thread. If enacted the law will certainly be challenged. An interesting option was if, the EARN-IT act could be challenged on 2nd amendment grounds. Since cryptography has the same status as any other weapon (it is classified as a munition) it should have 2nd amendment protection for citizens of the U.S.

Yes, access to strong cryptography has been easier to obtain due to the efforts of groups to reduce, but not eliminate, its standing as a munition. Most of that work focused on export control and did not remove the classification entirely.

The 1st (free speech), 4th(warrants, unreasonable search/seizure), and 5th & 14th (due process) have obvious paths of litigation with larger bodies of precedent. The 2nd amendment has teeth. It has been much, much harder to regulate ‘arms’ in the U.S.

SpaceLifeForm February 8, 2022 8:22 PM

@ Steven, Clive, ALL

Nothing in the document your URL references talks about the 2nd amendment.

Good snark. But note that the article does point to existing law that is being ignored so far.

Big money fascists want to kill Section 230 to be able to squeeze out the smaller websites, like or via litigation costs.

They want to have something to complain about.

Clive Robinson February 9, 2022 5:46 AM

@ SpaceLifeForm,

With respect to Eric Goldman’s tweets, I see that he is aware of my “point 3” effect though he sees it via “User Supplied Content”(USC).

Interesting though is the “Tom @Akt_tag” comment of,

“#EARNIT will do fantastic damage, and prop up FANG.”

From a politico’s perspective dealing with “FANG” takes them back to how things used to be with “Press Barons”.

That is back oh around a century and a half ago, newspapers like stage plays for a couple of centuries before that had been a threat to the Monarch and Politicians. So they did not step in the way of monopolistc Press Empires building up, because it gave them a single person or later entity to get a hold on, so the censorship and propaganda of the Monarch and Politicians could continue though somewhat reduced.

EARN-IT will take us back to the bad old days with avengence.

In the UK a few years back there was a scandal as the Rupert “the bear faced lier” Murdoch and his News International media outlets used criminal techniques to spy on individuals. Most remember it as “Phone Hacking” but in reality it was “Poor Security” by individuals.

However the Politicians acted and quite deliberately created a control and devide system with a self selected set of adjudicators.

Bad enough, but just last year the Scotish Judiciary under the very definate influence of the first minister Nicola Sturgeon set truly appaling case law. Sturgeon who had run a failed character assassination attack via her female friends making false sexual abuse claims against a male political rival became publically knowledge via the MSM as did the identities of the accusers.

However a bloger of high repute but a thorn in many political hides reported on the matter. They did not identify the accusers but was found guilty of “jigsaw identification” that was a sham to enable the bloger to be imprisoned without cause. The judge from behind a closed door claimed that the law was different for those belonging to a journalists Union and those not… Thus setting up another self selecting set of adjudicators…

Expect to see a lot more of this as they get the confidence to “tighten the noose” around “Public Comment”. Only this time I suspect they will find a way to turn all Press into not just being censored but in effect “Police State” Propaganda purveyors on pain of long jail sentences, or even death in internment etc as has happened in many other places.

vas pup February 9, 2022 4:40 PM

Northrop Grumman Offers Navy a Missile Defense System With Infinite Ammo

“The AN/SLQ-32(V)7 SEWIP Block 3 system protects surface ships from anti-ship missiles, providing early detection, signal analysis and threat warning.” But more than just that, it includes “non-kinetic electronic attack options” and “an unlimited, non-kinetic, soft-kill magazine to defeat inbound threats.”

Basically, once SEWIP Block 3 detects an incoming threat, such as an anti-ship missile, it responds by emitting tight blasts of precisely controlled radio-frequency energy — attacking as many targets as necessary, simultaneously, and continuing to fire as many times as necessary to defeat all threats. And because this is an energy weapon, SEWIP Block 3 “basically [gives a ship] an unlimited amount of ‘bullets’ you can use to defeat those anti-ship missiles,” Mike Meaney, Northrop’s vice president for the SEWIP Block 3 program, explained in an interview with website The War Zone.”

Looks for me very similar to Scorpius

Leave a comment


Allowed HTML <a href="URL"> • <em> <cite> <i> • <strong> <b> • <sub> <sup> • <ul> <ol> <li> • <blockquote> <pre> Markdown Extra syntax via

Sidebar photo of Bruce Schneier by Joe MacInnis.