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Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Online dating company Match Group will tomorrow publicly support the EARN IT Act, a bipartisan Senate bill to combat online child sexual exploitation, Axios has learned.

Why it matters: Match, the parent company of major dating platforms such as Tinder, is breaking with the internet industry's leading trade group, which worries the bill could open a wedge for law enforcement to crack into encrypted systems, threatening user privacy.

Context: EARN IT would require tech platforms to comply with government-developed best practices to prevent online child sexual exploitation. If they don't, they would lose some of the liability protections they have under Section 230 of the 1996 Communications Decent Act.

Axios obtained an internal memo from Match Group CEO Shar Dubey, which explains the decision. It reads, in part:

"As the mom of a teenager, I am constantly thinking about my own daughter’s safety. And as the chief executive of a company that includes some of the world’s leading dating brands — Match, Tinder, OkCupid, and Hinge — I find myself often awake at night thinking about my daughter’s future, her digital footprint and the safety and privacy issues that come with this territory...
That is why Match Group has voluntarily chosen to make all of our platforms 18+. Beyond the age requirement, 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...
We don’t casually lend our support to this legislation. We do it recognizing there is no cure-all to keeping the Internet safe, just as there is none for keeping the world safe. But, even still, we have to do every bit we can. These are complicated problems with many considerations. We must act together in a way that doesn’t hurt start-ups or stifle innovation and new technologies. We must balance concerns around privacy with concerns around safety -— which sometimes can be in conflict. But sensible and innovative solutions can go a long way."

(Update: Match has now posted the full memo on its website)

Yes, but: Groups including the Internet Association are worried the best practices developed pursuant to the bill, should it become law, could include limiting the use of end-to-end encryption.

What's next: Match chief legal officer Jared Sine is the only tech company executive scheduled to testify tomorrow during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on EARN IT.

  • Also testifying will be IA's deputy general counsel, a law professor from The Catholic University of America, and a vice president of the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children.

Go deeper: Push to stem online child sex abuse sparks encryption fears

Go deeper

1 hour ago - Health

CDC panel endorses Pfizer vaccine for 12- to 15-year-olds

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

An advisory panel for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Wednesday endorsed the Pfizer-BioNTech coronavirus vaccine for 12-to 15-year-olds, following the FDA's emergency use authorization.

Why it matters: Approval from the CDC panel was the final step needed before inoculations could be offered at any vaccination site for this age group.

  • Pfizer has said its vaccine is 100% effective at protecting against COVID-19 in a trial of more than 2,200 children between the ages of 12 and 15.

GOP lawmakers downplay Capitol riot at House hearing

Photo: Jon Cherry via Getty Images

Republican members of Congress sought to minimize the Capitol insurrection at a House hearing on Wednesday, with statements calling pro-Trump rioters "patriots" and other lawmakers falsely denying demonstrators were supporters of the former president at all.

Driving the news: The hearing comes shortly after House Republicans voted to oust Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) from leadership over her criticism of former President Trump's actions leading up to and on Jan. 6.

McConnell, McCarthy say 2017 tax law is "red line" in infrastructure talks

The top Republicans in the House and Senate told reporters after meeting with President Biden at the White House that "there is a bipartisan desire to get an outcome" on an infrastructure package, but stressed that revisiting the 2017 tax cuts is a "red line."

Why it matters: Wednesday marked the first time that Biden has hosted Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) at the White House.