Kids Are Safer Online With Encryption

Kids Are Safer Online With Encryption

We care deeply about children's online safety as parents and Internet activists, and we go to great lengths to protect our children. We monitor what they do online, using techniques like encryption to keep them safe, just as we use seatbelts and schedule routine doctor visits.

Because of this, we are extremely concerned about U.S. legislation like the EARN IT Act, the STOP CSAM Act, and the Kids Online Safety Act. These ideas weaken the most effective method we have for protecting the privacy and security of the information about our children, including their home and school addresses.

It's not always simple to let our kids have an online existence. Finding the right balance between hovering and allowing our kids some independence is part of being a parent. Thankfully, a medium ground exists. Some of the unknowns are under our control, therefore we can lower online dangers. We may prevent our children from being exposed to objectionable material or approached by strangers by using tools and actions. The key to this is encryption, which gives parents the power to ensure that their kids have a secure online presence and that their personal data isn't leaked.

How Do These Proposals Put Kids at Risk?

These ideas undermine encryption. They take away our ability to use the device that is essential for ensuring the internet safety of our own children.

In circumstances where child sexual abuse material (CSAM) is distributed on a platform, the EARN IT Act and the STOP CSAM Act would both allow courts to take into account the use of encryption as evidence of culpability. The STOP CSAM Act expands platform and infrastructure provider civil liability whereas the EARN IT Act only imposes criminal penalties. In both situations, the outcome undermines encryption.

Platforms would be liable for distributing illicit traffic even if they weren't aware of its contents under EARN IT and STOP CSAM. As a result, businesses would be less likely to offer encryption as a feature on their services or even permit users to use encrypted services.

Additionally, platforms would be forced to decide whether to use end-to-end encryption or weaken it in order to filter content under the Kids Online Safety Act (KOSA).

The countless outcomes are terrible for parents. The irony is that because encryption operates invisibly and guards against worst-case scenarios, many of us are unaware of how much we rely on it.

Here’s How Encryption Safeguards Our Kids

  1. Encryption Protects Children From Grooming Twelve-year-old Kevin enjoys drawing. He is anxious to introduce the world to his art. His parents decide he can register for a profile on DrawHive, a social media site for art lovers, after weighing the benefits and drawbacks. To stop strangers from contacting Kevin through public comments or private messages, they ban requests and comments. They also permit Kevin to communicate with his buddies via a different end-to-end encrypted messaging software. His parents can restrict message requests from unknown individuals so that nobody, not even the messaging app provider, can listen in on or view his messages. This means that somebody pretending to be a child in order to interact with him cannot make use of the information he provides to his peers. They decide on a profile name for both of his accounts together that doesn't reveal anything about Kevin, his family, or where they live.
  2. Encryption Protects Children From Exposure To Harmful Content On her eleventh birthday, Shannon received her first smartphone. FINALLY. The last student in her class to receive a phone, she is eager to talk to her pals after school. As soon as she has it, she downloads a messaging app and joins chat groups where she and her best friends discuss their favorite tunes, the most tedious classes, and how cringe-inducing adults are. Their messaging app is not end-to-end encrypted, but they are unaware of this. It searches communications for ad placements since it isn't, which results in more strange pop-ups for Shannon. It was an advertisement for a dating app yesterday. A commercial for an adult website today. Shannon could not have been profiled for advertising or inappropriate information without end-to-end encryption.
  3. Encryption Protects Children From CSAM John, Toby, and Sara's father, don't want to lose a single priceless memory while they are still in primary school. Since he doesn't have many photos of himself as a child, he wants to be a better parent to his own children. He purchased a phone with a high-quality camera before they were born, and even took photography classes. According to him, he has taken thousands of pictures and films, which he meticulously backs up to his cloud account every day and believes to be secure. Unfortunately, it doesn't employ encryption, thus all of his pictures of his children, including those of them playing in diapers, swimming, and having their first showers, are now in the possession of individuals who are part of a CSAM distribution network. Recent advances in AI have made it simple to easily produce phony, insulting images using their faces. His kids' private images might have been secured via encrypted cloud storage.
There is no news when horrible things don't happen. This is the encryption paradox. We are unable to estimate how many children encryption has saved due to the impossibility of counting "prevented harms." But it does, as we are aware. Similar to the seatbelt we fasten our infant into, encryption keeps us all secure in such a way that we take it for granted. Any form of child exploitation is abhorrent, therefore it makes sense that communities would try to find solutions. To achieve that, they approach the authorities. Although the legislators pushing these bills claim to want to safeguard children, they are actually diminishing the resources available to do so. Unfortunately, their plans endanger all of us and limit our ability to defend our own children.

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