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The EARN IT Act: Hold Big Tech Accountable

Today is Safer Internet Day and I think we can all agree that the internet needs to be a safer place for our children.

There are two very simple things you can do today to help make the internet a safer place for kids–

  1. learn about the EARN IT Act, and
  2. let your legislators know you support it.

And we’ve made it really easy for you to do that right here in this post!

Today we’re giving you a brief explanation about the EARN IT Act:

  • why we need it,
  • what it does,
  • what it does not do, and
  • what you CAN DO to ensure this important act passes.

Why we need the EARN IT Act

The internet is full of predators seeking to sexually exploit children. They prey where the kids play–on social media and gaming platforms. They pose as other kids, befriend them, manipulate them into sending nude photos and videos, then sexually exploit them by posting those images for all to see.

There are also children who are sexually abused in person and their rapes are captured in videos and uploaded.

When these instances of child sexual abuse material (CSAM) are reported, tech companies often respond that it doesn’t violate their community policies and there’s nothing they can do about it. It is extremely difficult to get it removed and it often pops back up almost immediately after being removed because someone else has downloaded it or taken a screenshot and reposts–perpetuating the trauma of these young victims.

Predators are utilizing the tools Big Tech has given them to further sexually exploit children. It's time for Big Tech to use those same tools to protect children.

Big Tech hides behind a loophole in a law passed in 1996, claiming they have immunity from what is posted on their platforms. That needs to end today by passing the EARN IT Act. They claim they don’t have the technology to stop it. But these brilliant minds that have brought us amazing technological advancements are perfectly capable of finding a solution.

Tech companies develop tech for two reasons:

1. To make money, and

2. To comply with regulations.

Since preventing CSAM doesn’t make money, we must enact laws to compel them to keep kids safe.

Related: The Shocking Tactics Sex Traffickers Use to Trap Your Kids and 5 Ways You Can Protect Them

What the EARN IT Act does

From the National Center on Sexual Exploitation:

The EARN IT Act is the most important child protection legislation pending before Congress in 2022.

It does four main things:

  1. Clarifies that there is no immunity for social media and technology companies that knowingly facilitate the distribution of child sexual abuse material (CSAM)
  2. Gives victims a path to justice and possibility of restoring their privacy
  3. Updates existing federal statutes to replace “child pornography” with the more accurate term “child sexual abuse material” (CSAM). This content is crime scene documentation; “child pornography” fails to convey the seriousness of the abuse.
  4. Establishes a commission of survivors, technology reps, privacy and civil rights experts, and other stakeholders to recommend best practices for tech companies to respond to the astronomical increase in online sexual exploitation of children including grooming for sex trafficking.

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What the EARN IT Act does not do

Big Tech is opposing this bill because it’s not profitable for them to comply. Even though this act has strong bipartisan support, Big Tech is still seeking to derail it by spreading false messages to distract the public.

Again from the National Center on Sexual Exploitation:

Big Tech opposes the bill for deeply cynical reasons: Money. Since technology companies can’t come out and say, “We want to circulate pictures of child rape,” it exaggerates to distract the public.

Here’s what the bill does not do:

  • Does not undermine encryption
  • Does not undermine privacy
  • Does not give the federal government new power

Related: ​Thinking “Not My Child!” Won’t Protect Your Kids from Sex Trafficking: Here are 3 Ways that Work​

What you CAN DO to support the EARN IT Act

Contact your members of Congress and urge them to support the EARN IT Act. The National Center on Sexual Exploitation has made this SO easy! But don't delay--the EARN IT Act is already in Congress.

  • Just go here and scroll to the bottom where it says “TAKE ACTION”.
  • Complete the short form and click the black “Take Action” button. It will take you 30 seconds!

I wish we lived in a world where Defend Young Minds didn’t need to exist. I wish we lived in a world where the internet was a safe place for kids to be.

The EARN IT Act will take us one step closer to defending our most vulnerable. It’s time for responsible adults to hold Big Tech accountable. I know when they are compelled, they will create amazing technology to keep our kids safer.

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