A bill aimed at thwarting the online sexual exploitation of children came one step closer to becoming law last week. The Eliminating Abusive and Rampant Neglect of Interactive Technologies (EARN IT) Act made it out of a Senate markup hearing over objections from privacy and human rights groups.
Supporters of the legislation describe it as a narrow carve-out to Section 230, the law that indemnifies digital hosts against civil and state liability for third-party content. Currently, platforms hosting others’ posts are legally obligated to report child sex abuse material, or CSAM, once they are aware of it, but they are not required to scan their platform to find it proactively. EARN IT would change that by making digital hosts liable in civil claims and state criminal prosecutions for sexually exploitative content, leaving it up to 50 states to decide independently where the new line for legal culpability begins.