Washington – Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) joined Senators Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) to introduce 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) creates incentives for companies to “earn” liability protection for violations of laws related to online child sexual abuse material (CSAM).
The legislation is also cosponsored by Senators Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.), Doug Jones (D-Ala.), Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), Bob Casey (D-Pa.), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) and Dick Durbin (D-Ill.).
“Technological advances have allowed the online exploitation of children to become much, much worse over recent years,” said Feinstein. “Companies must do more to combat this growing problem on their online platforms. Our bill would allow individuals to sue tech companies that don’t take proper steps to prevent online child exploitation, and it’s an important step to protect the most vulnerable among us.”
“The internet is infested with stomach-churning images of children who have been brutally assaulted and exploited, and who are forced to endure a lifetime of pain after these photographs and videos are circulated online,” said Blumenthal. “Simply put, tech companies need to do better. Tech companies have an extraordinary special safeguard against legal liability, but that unique protection comes with a responsibility. Companies that fail to comport with basic standards that protect children from exploitation have betrayed the public trust granted them by this special exemption. Online platforms’ near complete immunity from legal responsibility is a privilege – they have to earn it – and that’s what our bipartisan bill requires.”
“I appreciate my colleagues working with me on this bill to ensure tech companies are using best business practices to prevent child exploitation online,” said Graham. “This bill is a major first step. For the first time, you will have to earn blanket liability protection when it comes to protecting minors. Our goal is to do this in a balanced way that doesn’t overly inhibit innovation, but forcibly deals with child exploitation.”
“First Big Tech said it needed special immunity from human trafficking laws. Now it says it needs immunity from laws against child pornography. Enough. It’s time to stop putting the financial interests of Big Tech above protecting kids from predators. The EARN IT Act is another way to bring today’s internet law into the 21st century,” said Hawley.
The EARN IT Act is supported by more than 70 groups, survivors and stakeholders, including the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children (NCMEC), Rights4Girls, and the National Center on Sexual Exploitation.
Background on the EARN IT Act:
Highlights of the EARN IT Act: