October 1, 2020

STATEMENT – EARN IT Act Introduced in House; Will Confront Explosion of Online Child Sexual Abuse Material

Washington, DC (October 1, 2020) – The National Center on Sexual Exploitation (NCOSE) commended Representatives Sylvia Garcia (D-TX) and Ann Wagner (R-MO) for introducing the EARN IT Act in the U.S. House.

The EARN IT Act will allow survivors and state attorneys general to be able to sue technology companies for facilitating child sexual abuse material (CSAM) using federal civil law as well as state civil and criminal law. In addition, the EARN IT Act creates a new Online Child Exploitation Prevention Commission that will establish best business practices and make recommendations to inform policy, the judiciary, and the law enforcement community about protecting children in the ever-changing digital environment.

“The EARN IT Act is the strongest piece of legislation that can confront the explosion of online child sexual abuse material. If passed, Big Tech will finally be held legally accountable to report the sexual abuse of children online. Technology companies currently have blanket legal immunity, and platforms on which CSAM circulates—Instagram, Twitter, and more—are not required by law to report it. EARN IT will provide the necessary incentive for Big Tech to protect children online,” said Patrick A. Trueman, president and CEO of the National Center on Sexual Exploitation.

The New York Times rightly pointed out the ‘almost unfathomable’ increase in criminal behavior after National Center for Missing and Exploited Children data showed that 70 million CSAM images were reported in 2019, as compared to over 600,000 CSAM images in 2008. The Times story also pointed out that CSAM has proliferated to the point that law enforcement and the FBI can only prioritize material depicting infants and toddlers, ignoring older children. This points to a massive problem, and one that EARN IT will help to end.

“We commend Representatives Garcia and Wagner for working to ensure that online child sexual exploitation is confronted. Given that EARN IT has bipartisan support in both the House and Senate, there is no reason why this bill should not pass,” Trueman added.

The House version of EARN IT is the companion to the Senate version co-sponsored by Senators Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) and Lindsey Graham (R-SC), approved unanimously by the Senate Judiciary Committee on July 2.

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.

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