Washington, DC, USA - July 18, 2017: A United States Senate committee hearing room. The United States Senate is the upper chamber of the United States Congress.

Graham, Blumenthal, Hawley, Feinstein Introduce EARN IT Act to Encourage Tech Industry to Take Online Child Sexual Exploitation Seriously

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina), U.S. Senators Richard Blumenthal (D-Connecticut), Josh Hawley (R-Missouri) and Ranking Member Dianne Feinstein (D-California) recently introduced 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) would create incentives for companies to “earn” liability protection for violations of laws related to online child sexual abuse material (CSAM).

Highlights of the EARN IT Act

  • Creates a strong incentive for the tech industry to take online child sexual exploitation seriously. The bill amends Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act to allow companies to “earn” their liability protection for violations of laws related to child sexual abuse material.
  • Establishes a National Commission on Online Child Sexual Exploitation Prevention to recommend best practices related to identifying and reporting online child sexual exploitation. The Commission consists of the heads of DOJ, DHS, and FTC, along with 16 other members appointed equally by Congressional leadership, including representatives from: law enforcement, survivors and victims’ services organizations, constitutional law experts, technical experts, and industry.
  • Allows for Congressional review of best practices. Before companies can certify compliance, there is a period of Congressional review for the Commission-developed best practices.
  • Safe harbors for liability. Companies can choose to certify compliance with best practices in order to maintain immunity from child sexual abuse material statutes. If companies do not want to certify compliance with best practices, they can maintain immunity by establishing that they have other reasonable practices in place to prevent child sexual exploitation.
  • Recourse for survivors and tools for enforcement. The bill bolsters enforcement of child sexual abuse material statutes and allows survivors civil recourse if companies choose not to comply with best practices or establish reasonable practices.