Mar 07 2024

Graham Calls For Passage of Legislation to Protect Children Online, Hold Big Tech Accountable

WASHINGTON – Last night, U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) made a unanimous consent request to call for the Senate to immediately pass legislation to combat the sexual exploitation of children online and hold Big Tech accountable. Graham was joined on the floor in support of this effort by U.S. Senators Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), John Cornyn (R-Texas), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minnesota), Josh Hawley (R-Missouri), and Dick Durbin (D-Illinois).

Graham made a request to pass the EARN IT Act of 2023, the STOP CSAM Act of 2023, and the SHIELD Act of 2023. The passage of EARN IT and STOP CSAM was blocked by U.S. Senator Ron Wyden (D-Oregon). The passage of the SHIELD Act was blocked by U.S. Senator Cory Booker (D-New Jersey).

  • GRAHAM: “The largest companies in America – social media outlets – that make hundreds of billions of dollars a year, you can’t sue if they do damage to your family by using their product because of Section 230 [of the Communications Decency Act].”
  • GRAHAM: “All these bills, Madam President, have passed the Judiciary Committee unanimously… We have different views about the way the world should work and the role of government in our lives. But we’ve come together on this… We see the problem the same. We hear from our constituents, who are helpless and hopeless. We’re going to keep this up until we bring these [companies] to heel.”  

Click here to watch Graham’s remarks

Click here to watch the full unanimous consent request  


In a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing in January, Senator Graham pressed Big Tech CEOs on their failures to protect kids online and announced his plan to call for votes on online child safety bills that had passed the committee.

Graham called for the passage of bills that unanimously passed the Senate Judiciary Committee.

  • The EARN IT Act of 2023 (S. 1207):
    • Senators Graham (R-South Carolina) and Richard Blumenthal (D-Connecticut) originally introduced the Eliminating Abusive and Rampant Neglect of Interactive Technologies (EARN IT) Act in March 2020. Since then, it has been reintroduced twice. Each time, the EARN IT Act has been unanimously voted out of the Senate Judiciary Committee.
    • The EARN IT Act removes blanket immunity for violations of laws related to online child sexual abuse material (CSAM).
    • Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act gives “interactive computer services” significant immunity from civil liability, as well as state criminal liability for third party content on their platforms. Sadly, given this limited liability, many companies do not aggressively go after online child sexual exploitation.
    • Bill text of S. 1207.
  • The STOP CSAM Act of 2023 (S. 1199):
    • Senator Dick Durbin (D-Illinois), Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, introduced the Strengthening Transparency and Obligations to Protect Children Suffering from Abuse and Mistreatment (STOP CSAM) Act in April 2023. It was unanimously voted out of committee in May 2023.
    • According to Senator Durbin, the bill “cracks down on the proliferation of child sex abuse material online, supports victims, and increases accountability and transparency for online platforms.”
    • Bill text of S. 1199.
  • The SHIELD Act of 2023 (S. 412):
    • Senators Amy Klobuchar (D-Minnesota) and John Cornyn (R-Texas) introduced the Stopping Harmful Image Exploitation and Limiting Distribution (SHIELD) Act in February 2023. It was unanimously voted out of committee in May 2023. A previous version of the bill was first introduced in 2017.
    • According to Senators Klobuchar and Cornyn, the SHIELD Act “would provide federal law enforcement with the tools they need to crack down on serious privacy violations. The bill establishes narrow federal criminal liability for people who distribute others’ private or explicit images online without consent. The bill also fills in existing gaps in federal law so that prosecutors can hold all those who exploit children accountable. Current state laws offer incomplete and inconsistent protection for victims of image exploitation.”
    • Bill text of S. 412.