In yet another attempt of attack against the encryption on the web, the us government has just, in effect, chopping the EARN IT Act (the ” act ” deserves the “), whose objective is to combat the rise of crimes around children online. In fact, this law would require major platforms (Facebook, Google, Microsoft, etc) to prove that they do the best to cooperate with the forces of law and order, without which they could be held liable for the content posted on their services, contrary to section 230 of the Communications Decency Act promises.

An argument not so new

The paedophile communicate using encryption almost inviolable, said William Barr, the attorney general of the United States, during the presentation of the law. The man, who was recently tapped on the fingers of Facebook about the same topic, thus means that the larger companies adhere to a set of rules to combat this phenomenon. If the encryption is not directly mentioned in the text of the law, the obligation “to merit” legal protection offered by the current system may push many platforms to install backdoors in their software e-mail.

A spokesperson of Facebook interviewed by Wired is wary of the impact that may have this bill if it came to be enacted. “We are concerned that the EARN IT Act will not be used to weaken the encryption that protects the security of each against the pirates and criminals”, says Thomas Richards at the magazine in English. A fear relayed by many security experts, but also by the boss of Apple in personnequi appropriately recalled that there is”no back door reserved for the gentiles”.

If the speech of the great actors of the web seems so well established, it is that this is not the first time that they have to deal with that sort of problem. The end of the communication encryption is a topic that regularly comes back on the table, and the fight against paedo criminality is very often invoked as a reason. Already in 2010, under the Bush administration, a report put the encryption in the pillory, explaining that the tool “significantly hampers the ability of law enforcement to investigate and to bring charges against the offenders”. At the time, a survey estimated that 52 % of Americans regarded the encryption as a stick in the wheels of the forces of law and order.

France is not spared

In another context, the law Loppsi 2 proposed by the Sarkozy’s government wanted to, this time, “filter” the Net to fight “against the unlawful use of the Internet, such as religious radicalization or child pornography”. We do not yet speak of encryption, but the mere use of the web, according to Michèle Alliot-Marie, then minister of the Interior, could “reproduce and amplify” behaviors as “pedophilia and child pornography, which are aimed at children and teens of all ages”.

The argument is so often quoted that it is part of the myth of the “4 horsemen of the infocalypse“. Invented by an engineer at Intel in 1988, this term refers to the “terrorists, pedophiles, drug dealers and money launderers” that are so frequently evoked to limit the deployment of encryption tools. For almost 30 years, the pitch has not changed much.