“More is needed from our government to instill protections that will keep our children and others from being exploited in exchange for advertising profits,” the letter stated
[WASHINGTON, DC] – This week, a coalition of 257 organizations representing survivors of child exploitation and sex trafficking from all 50 states and the District of Columbia published a letter of support calling on Congress to pass the Eliminating Abusive and Rampant Neglect of Interactive Technologies Act (EARN IT Act).
The EARN IT Act was introduced this week by U.S. Senators Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) and Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and would encourage the tech industry to take online child sexual exploitation seriously by removing blanket immunity for violations of laws related to online child sexual abuse material (CSAM).
“It is time to confront and restrict rampant sexual abuse occurring on digital platforms,” the organizations and advocates wrote in the letter. “Victims will finally have access to justice because EARN IT will allow them to use federal civil and state criminal and civil law to seek redress for harm suffered.”
Citing the scores of individuals and parents of children who have had sexually explicit videos and photographs illegally posted online without the victim’s consent, the organizations highlighted the lack of action and accountability from social media platforms and Big Tech giants.
“Even with the tools provided for good citizens to report concerning material and activity on these digital platforms, they ignore requests even when presented with evidence that the subject is a minor,” the letter stated. “For this reason, more is needed from our government to instill protections that will keep our children and others from being exploited in exchange for advertising profits.”
The letter also noted efforts by tech giants to avoid accountability, and pushed back on unfair criticism that the bill would represent an attack on free speech and encryption.
“Despite what Big Tech’s legion of lobbyists will tell you: EARN IT Act does not undermine privacy initiatives or free speech or human rights. Since Big Tech can’t defend child sexual abuse material, it invents specious arguments against this bill,” the letter stated. “It is a necessary, surgical reform to the [Communications Decency Act] (CDA) 230 in order to prevent criminality with lifelong negative consequences on innocent victims.”
“We urge you to convey the urgency of this legislation to Congressional leadership by marking up the bill as soon as possible,” the letter concluded.
Among the 257 cosigners were 61 major national organizations, including the National Center on Sexual Exploitation, National Children’s Alliance, National Organization for Women, RAINN, National District Attorneys Association, U.S. Institute Against Human Trafficking, Rights4Girls, and Equality Now.
Full text of the letter of support can be found here.
The EARN IT Act is cosponsored by U.S. Senators Chuck Grassley (R-IA), Dick Durbin (D-IL), Josh Hawley (R-MO), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Joni Ernst (R-IA), Bob Casey (D-PA), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), John Kennedy (R-LA), Mazie Hirono (D-HI), Rob Portman (R-OH), Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), John Cornyn (R-TX), Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV), Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), Susan Collins (R-ME), Maggie Hassan (D-NH), Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-MS), and Mark Warner (D-VA).
U.S. Representatives Ann Wagner (R-MO) and Sylvia Garcia (D-TX) introduced companion legislation in the House of Representatives.