WASHINGTON, DC (April 19, 2023) – The National Center on Sexual Exploitation (NCOSE) calls on Congress to pass the EARN IT Act so that children victimized by having images of their sexual abuse circulated online can pursue justice.
“Reports of online child sexual abuse have exploded exponentially, while the largest technology companies continue to push a broad interpretation of Section 230 that would absolve them of knowingly facilitating these crimes against children. The EARN IT Act gives survivors of child sexual abuse material (child pornography) a path to justice by clarifying that they can bring civil claims against tech companies for knowingly facilitating child sexual abuse material, and a chance to recover their privacy,” said Dawn Hawkins, CEO of the National Center on Sexual Exploitation.
“CSAM is horrific crime, which harms children for life, as they not only suffer when the abuse happens, but also when their abuse is endlessly circulated online. Yet in courts across the nation Big Tech has been claiming a special exemption from the CSAM laws. Congress never intended for Section 230 to permit and encourage online platforms to do nothing—or worse—facilitate the spread of CSAM.
“Our CSAM laws protect the most vulnerable: our children. It is disgraceful that Big Tech is making this clarification of the law necessary through their behavior, which has allowed CSAM to spread at an unprecedented rate—and through the irresponsible legal position they take in court any time they are facing accountability. We urge Congress to pass this bipartisan clarification of the law.
“Despite what Big Tech may claim, the EARN IT Act does not implicate encryption, violate privacy, undermine civil liberties, or touch first amendment protections of any American, nor will it negatively impact the LGBTQ+ community or hinder youth from finding information or support. EARN IT is about stopping images and videos of child rape from being circulated,” Hawkins added.
In 2021, over 29.3 million reports of suspected child sexual exploitation, an increase of 35% from 2020, were reported to NCMEC’s CyberTipline.
The EARN IT Act is co-sponsored by Sens. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) and Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Reps. Ann Wagner (R-MO) and Sylvia Garcia (D-TX).
About National Center on Sexual Exploitation (NCOSE)
Founded in 1962, the National Center on Sexual Exploitation (NCOSE) is the leading national non-partisan organization exposing the links between all forms of sexual exploitation such as child sexual abuse, prostitution, sex trafficking and the public health harms of pornography.