Match Group Inc is set to be the first company to officially endorse the controversial Eliminating Abusive and Rampant Neglect of Interactive Technologies (EARN IT) legislation designed to tackle the issue of child abuse in the adult industry.
The company, which owns over 40 dating apps including OkCupid, PlentyOfFish, Tinder, Hinge and of course Match.com, made the announcement on its blog. In it, group CEO Shar Dubey talks about the company’s policy of serving over-18s only, a reflection of Ms Dubey’s own motherly concerns.
“We vigilantly deploy a network of industry-leading automated and manual moderation and review tools, systems and processes designed to find and remove people from our app who should not be there. This includes both underage users and the bad actors that could prey on them…”
Opponents of the EARN IT legislation have suggested that it could lead to a backdoor ban on end-to-end encryption, leaving the road to hell as one paved with good intentions. The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) goes so far as to call it “a new and serious threat to both free speech and security online”.
The EARN IT legislation, which is currently progressing through the US legal system, would see violators of new best practices in child protection facing the prospect of being stripped of their liability exemptions, afforded by Section 230 of the 1996 Communications Decency Act.
This would leave sites vulnerable to prosecution for content, even if it came from a third-party. Under the exemption, sites are not liable for non-compliant content from third-parties, allowing them to remove them without admission of admitting culpability.
That’s a fairly big safety net for the industry, so major players like Match Group were bound to be keen, in spite of the concerns over its wider repercussions.
Concluding the Match Group’s statement, Dubey adds: “We as tech leaders should engage with lawmakers in thoughtful dialogue and work on establishing guidelines and practices to make the online world a safer place for our kids. While we will continue to work towards this goal on our own, we support this legislation and the beginning of this very important conversation.”
Talks on the bill are continuing as it makes its passage through the house, with representatives of dating and adult sites, including Match Group, offering their insight to the committee.