[WASHINGTON, DC] – U.S. Senators Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) and Lindsey Graham (R-SC) reintroduced bipartisan legislation to encourage the tech industry to take online child sexual exploitation seriously. The Eliminating Abusive and Rampant Neglect of Interactive Technologies Act (EARN IT Act) removes blanket immunity for violations of laws related to online child sexual abuse material (CSAM).
Ahead of the legislation’s consideration scheduled for Thursday in the Senate Judiciary Committee, survivor, law enforcement, and tech advocacy groups have voiced their strong support for the EARN IT Act:
John F. Clark, President and CEO of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) said: “In light of the increasing high volume of child sexual exploitation material being traded online, legislative initiatives are needed now more than ever to address the increasing distribution of child sexual abuse material online and the harm this distribution inflicts on child victims and their families…NCMEC is proud to lend our support to this important legislation. Thank you for your leadership and continued dedication to the safety of our nation's children.”
An anonymous survivor of child sexual abuse material said: “Knowing that companies could remove the images and videos of my abuse as a child from their sites but chose not to makes me both sick and enraged. They wash their hands of it because it was posted by a user, not by them, however, it is their platform and they are benefiting from my exploitation…The EARN IT Act is absolutely necessary to protect survivors of sexual exploitation, to help prevent further exploitation, and to send a message that images of the sexual abuse of children are an unacceptable thing to be creating or posting online.”
Mark Buse, SVP of Global Policy Affairs at Match said: “The bipartisan EARN IT Act puts forward real solutions regarding how the entire internet ecosystem can better keep our kids safe – incentivizing companies to act aggressively against illicit content, predatory behavior and bad actors who prey on children. We thank Sen. Blumenthal and Sen. Graham for their leadership on this issue as we all must do more to keep the internet safe.”
Scott Berkowitz, President of the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN) said: “Child sexual abuse material is crime scene evidence; it is documentation of a child's abuse and torture. We should be doing everything possible to not only remove these images from the internet but bring the producers and distributors of these images to justice. The EARN IT Act is a critical step and we thank Sen. Blumenthal and Graham for their leadership.”
The National District Attorneys Association (NDAA) said: “Prosecutors are thrilled to once again support the EARN It Act, a bill that would hold the tech industry accountable for the exploitation of children on their platforms. We look forward to working alongside Senator Lindsey Graham & Senator Richard Blumenthal to #ProtectKidsOnline.”
Dawn Hawkins, CEO of the National Center on Sexual Exploitation (NCOSE) said: “With child sexual abuse material (CSAM) exploding on the internet, tech companies should eradicate it from their platforms. But tech companies currently have no incentive to prevent or eliminate CSAM. The EARN IT Act is the best piece of tech accountability legislation to ensure tech companies do the right thing. We are pleased that this updated EARN IT Act addresses others’ concerns about encryption. But most importantly, this bill will ensure that tech companies finally address, prevent, and end this horrific criminality. Tech has the capability of doing so but needs Congress to hold it accountable.”
Enough is Enough said: “Sadly, millions of children and families have suffered due to greed for profit by multi-billion-dollar electronic service providers. Instead of protecting children, they knowingly allowed them to be abused and exploited. Under EARN IT, Big Tech is finally going to be held responsible if they do nothing to keep kids safe and will need to “earn” immunity by demonstrating accountability and responsibility as set forth by this legislation…Enough Is Enough applauds the leadership of Senate sponsors Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) and Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC), as well as House sponsors Representative Sylvia Garcia (D-TX) and Representative Ann Wagner (R-MO) on this legislation to amend Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act and to hold Big Tech companies both responsible and accountable.”
Chris McKenna, Founder of Protect Young Eyes said: “For far too long, electronic service providers (ESPs) have benefited from a digital landscape that favored their growth and expansion by giving them limitless immunity for their content, at the expense of the safety and protection of our children…This cannot continue. Not on our watch….Thank you, Senators Graham and Blumenthal, and Representatives Garcia and Wagner for having the courage to defend the most vulnerable among us with EARN IT. Your leadership is admirable, and I and our followers are ready to lock arms with you and see this through. It’s time to #protectkidsonline.”
Tania Haigh, founder of the KIDS TOO Movement and co-founder of Parents Against Child Sex Abuse (P.A.X.A.) said: “We are ringing alarm bells to protect children, both in online and offline environments. For the last two decades, the onus of child safety has been put solely on parents by social media platforms. We can’t do it alone. The EARN IT Act is one measure that is designed to get these billion dollar tech companies to start helping parents and stop protecting predators.”
The International Justice Mission (IJM) said: “IJM supports the EARN IT Act because it will provide best practices created by a congressionally appointed, multi-disciplinary commission of experts to guide the technology sector in proactively detecting, disrupting, and reporting all forms of online sexual exploitation of children (OSEC) on their platforms…One thing is abundantly clear: while criminals choose to livestream and share the rape and sexual abuse of young children online, those victimized children have no choice at all. It is time, therefore, for a victim-centered approach that protects children from abuse and prioritizes the privacy of online sexual exploitation victims.”
Last week, a coalition of 258 organizations representing survivors of child exploitation and sex trafficking from all 50 states and the District of Columbia also published a letter of support calling on Congress to pass the EARN IT Act. The full text of the letter is available 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.