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Senate Judiciary Proposals Fail to Keep Young People Safe Online

WASHINGTON—Today, the Senate Judiciary Committee will consider 3 proposals that undermine constitutional rights, security and privacy by punishing online services for trying to protect their users: the EARN IT Act, STOP CSAM Act, and the Cooper Davis Act.  

Under existing law, any website that finds child sexual abuse material (CSAM) is legally required to take it down and report it to NCMEC or face liability. And websites and social media businesses are voluntarily searching for CSAM and reporting it to NCMEC. In just 6 months, social media companies reported over 51 million instances of CSAM.

“If enacted, these bills would upend the existing reporting system by making CSAM searches mandatory. Mandating searches would have the unintended consequence of preventing such evidence from being used in court and, therefore, risks allowing bad actors to escape justice,” said NetChoice Vice President & General Counsel Carl Szabo. “Despite good intentions, these proposals fundamentally fail to address the core of the problem they’re trying to solve: keeping young people safe online.”

One of the proposals being considered, the EARN IT Act, is now on its 4th iteration after consistently failing to address major constitutional and cybersecurity problems. A survey by The Washington Post found that 81 percent of experts questioned opposed the EARN IT Act “​​because of concerns it would hamper adoption of strong encryption and make people less safe online.”

Szabo continued: “Lawmakers should incorporate the significant amount of stakeholder feedback instead of trying to move a bill that continues to jeopardize child safety online far more than they help. If Congress is looking to protect our children online, it should focus on the lack of convictions for child exploitation crimes, rather than the number of reports. While the number of reports increased ten-fold over the 2010s, federal convictions of child predators barely grew during the same period.”

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