Revised Earn It Act Removes Section 230 Impunity for Child Sex Abuse Material

In a dramatic and groundbreaking markup of the proposed Earn It Act of 2020, tomorrow the Senate Judiciary Committee will revise S. 3398 to carve out child sex abuse material from the almost 25-year exemption from civil liability provided by Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act.

Section 230 of the CDA has operated as a sword rather than a shield and has been consistently interpreted by the courts as providing broad blanket immunity from all civil liability for any activity related to child pornography. This precedent has created an absolute bar for any child pornography victim ever presenting any case on the merits. Every civil case every brought on behalf of child pornography victims has been dismissed prior to discovery. The result is a tech industry which has almost no incentive to innovate or design their systems in a manner which projects children.

Almost no industry except nuclear power under the Price-Anderson Act enjoys such broad absolute protection from civil liability which has effectively barred access to the courts for victims and survivors of child pornography and online exploitation. Unlike the nuclear power industry, however, the tech industry is not subject to any regulation. Children harmed by the vast limitless proliferation of child pornography on the internet are simply an ‘unfortunate casualty’ of the unbound growth of technology companies in their endless quest for traffic and profits.

No longer a small emerging niche business deserving of federal protection, tech has grown into a multi-trillion dollar global industry with richly compensated lobbyists and powerful interest groups vowing to resist any attempt to impose accountability for facilitating online child sex abuse.

Allowing child victims to access the courts is a basic human right which far from assuring success simply gives survivors a fair shot at justice. The tech industry will not be subject to any regulation or oversight–that part of the EARN IT act will be purely voluntary. Instead, the rigid impunity imposed by Section 230 will be eliminated and for the first time in 25 years, child pornography victims will have their day in court.

We strongly support this bill!

Everyone should contact their Senator and urge them to support the newly revised S. 3398.

EARN-IT-Sub-OLL20670


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