March 12, 2020

Enough Is Enough® Supports Bipartisan Legislation To Curb Online Sexual Exploitation By Promoting Earned Liability Protection

The following statement was released by Donna Rice Hughes, President & CEO, Enough Is Enough®:

Enough Is Enough® (EIE) is among 70-plus groups, survivors and stakeholders to endorse The Eliminating Abusive and Rampant Neglect of Interactive Technologies (EARN IT) Act, which offers incentives to technology to take online child sexual exploitation and abuse seriously.

The bipartisan legislation, co-led by Senators Blumenthal (D-CT) and Graham (R-SC), amends section 230 of the Communications Decency Act (CDA) to require companies to “earn” their liability protection for violations of laws related to the trafficking of child sexual abuse material (CSAM). The EARN IT Act has two components: laying out best practices for companies to maintain immunity from CSAM statutes and bolstering enforcement if they choose not to comply with such practices. Companies that don’t follow the recommended standards would lose civil liability protections. The legislation would also lower the bar for suing those tech firms.

Putting the protection, dignity and safety of children in the digital world over big-tech financial gain and organizational liability is paramount, and is consistent with our nation’s compelling interest in protecting its most vulnerable citizens and its future generations.

Advancements in technology over the past two decades have allowed the sexual exploitation of children to flourish at alarming rates. Between 2017-18, videos of child sexual abuse (CSE) reported to the CyberTipline at the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) increased by 541 percent. In 2019, NCMEC says it received 17 million reports containing over 69 million suspected CSE images, videos and other reported content. 

The Department of Justice indicated admits it is at a breaking point regarding the enforcement of the most heinous sex crimes against children including infant child sex abuse images and the online virtual rape of children. 

The cycle of the sexual exploitation of children in the digital world is interlinked with sex trafficking, sexual predation and extreme pornography, known under U.S. federal laws as obscenity. Extreme pornography has become increasingly mainstream and depicts vicious acts of sexual brutality, rape, bestiality, excretory functions and other depraved forms of paraphilic content. 

During the week of January 4, Pornhub’s most watched video, with over four million views  worldwide, showed a teenage girl being electrocuted, burned with wax, and penetrated by a machine, while her hands and feet were shackled and her mouth was gagged. She screamed in pain, throughout this torture. 

It is imperative that law enforcement aggressively enforce all of the federal laws in order to curb sexual exploitation, as promised by Donald Trump during his candidacy by signing of EIE’s Children’s Internet Safety Presidential Pledge. The Pledge has since served as a linchpin, sparking an outcry to enforce obscenity laws including letters to Attorney General Barr by multiple members of Congress and Senators referencing the Pledge, as well as petitions to shut down Pornhub. 

Trying to curb child sexual exploitation via CSAM, predation and trafficking without enforcing federal obscenity laws is like trying to curb water pollution without prosecuting businesses from dumping toxic wastes into the water supply.   

The Earn It Act is a critical piece of tech accountability legislation and is the second major step, FOSTA-SESTA being the first, in curbing child sexual exploitation on the internet by removing legal protections for tech companies that fail to police illegal content and activity occurring on their platforms. Technology companies must be proactively engaged in the reporting, detecting and removal of child sex abuse images. Anything less is inconceivable, irresponsible, and should not go without significant consequence. 

EIE is grateful to the bipartisan leadership who is prioritizing child safety in the digital world by introducing this legislation including: U.S. Senate: Richard Blumenthal (D-CT); Bob Casey (D-PA); Kevin Cramer (R-ND); Dick Durbin (D-IL); Joni Ernst (R-IA); Dianne Feinstein (D-CA); Lindsey Graham (R-SC); Josh Hawley (R-MO); Doug Jones (D-AL); and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI).