There’s an important piece of federal legislation currently being reintroduced in the US Senate and House of Representatives, called the Eliminating Abusive and Rampant Neglect of Interactive Technologies Act (EARN IT Act). This bipartisan bill was unanimously approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee last session (July 2020), which speaks volumes in and of itself.
In a nutshell, the EARN IT Act makes interactive computer services liable for the child sexual abuse material (CSAM, aka child pornography) content on their platforms. In other words, Big Tech is finally going to be held responsible for their longstanding inaction as to the CSAM content they harbor and often profit from. Plus it creates a new Online Child Exploitation Prevention Commission, charged with establishing best business practices for interactive computer services to prevent, reduce and respond to online sexual exploitation of children, including grooming and sex trafficking.
Fact Sheet by the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children.
Fact Sheet by the National Center on Sexual Exploitation.
At-a-glance graphic by Shared Hope International.
Myths vs. Facts document by Rep. Sylvia Garcia’s office (D-TX).
You may have heard of the landmark passing of FOSTA-SESTA in 2018, which made online companies legally responsible for facilitating sex trafficking on their platforms. (FOSTA-SESTA is the legislation that closed down the notorious website Backpage.com.) The EARN IT Act is a follow up to that bill. All the big names in our field support it, including the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children (NCMEC), Shared Hope International, the National Center on Sexual Exploitation (NCOSE), Operation Underground Railroad, and many others.
This is a big deal!
The EARN IT Act directly addresses the concerning spike of online child sexual exploitation that NCMEC has reported over the course of the pandemic.
Similar to the battle that was fought in getting FOSTA-SESTA to pass, the EARN IT Act is experiencing fierce opposition from some tech companies. Contrary to what they assert, online companies can absolutely do more to protect children without compromising encryption or privacy. But they currently have no incentive to make this a priority, nor do they wish to have incentive imposed on them even though . With how Big Tech is fighting this bill with all its resources, it needs support from the people in this country who care about protecting kids. If each of us sent an email to our elected officials in D.C., it would be a groundswell of support that they couldn’t ignore.
Please take a moment to email our three Montana legislators in D.C.!
Tell them you are a constituent and ask them to please cosponsor the EARN IT Act when it is reintroduced. Tell them why you believe this bill is important and necessary.
Email Senator Tester HERE (refer him to Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) for more info on the EARN IT Act)
Email Senator Daines HERE (refer him to Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) for more info on the EARN IT Act)
Email Representative Rosendale HERE (refer him to Representative Ann Wagner (R-MO) for more info on the EARN IT Act)