Feb 10 2022
One Down, One To Go
WASHINGTON – Two major pieces of legislation pushed by U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) moved forward today.
One bill, which is now on the way to President Biden for his signature into law, gives victims of sexual assault and sexual harassment the chance to have their claims heard in court. It was unanimously passed by the United States Senate.
The other will hold Big Tech companies accountable for the numerous cases of online child sexual exploitation which take place on their platforms. It unanimously passed the Senate Judiciary Committee today.
Ending Forced Arbitration of Sexual Assault and Sexual Harassment Act
The Ending Forced Arbitration of Sexual Assault and Sexual Harassment Act, sponsored by Senator Graham and Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-New York) prevents perpetrators from being able to push survivors of sexual harassment and sexual assault into the secretive, and often biased process of forced arbitration.
The legislation would invalidate existing forced arbitration clauses that prevent sexual assault and sexual harassment survivors from seeking justice and public accountability under the laws meant to protect them.
Graham first introduced the bill in 2017 and reintroduced it last year alongside Senator Gillibrand. The legislation has now overwhelmingly passed Congress and will be sent to President Biden for signature into law.
“I’m very pleased the Senate has now joined the House of Representatives in passing this important legislation and sending it to President Biden’s desk to sign into law,” said Senator Graham. “The days of sexual harassment and sexual assault cases being buried in unfair arbitration clauses are now over. For far too long, many employment contracts required employees to submit to unfair arbitration procedures instead of allowing them the option of pursuing their day in court. These types of agreements had the chilling effect of shielding misconduct from public scrutiny. Today, working side-by-side with my colleague Senator Gillibrand, who has been a tireless advocate for this important legislation, these types of unfair agreements come to an end.”
Watch Full Forced Arbitration Press Conference Here
EARN IT Act
The Eliminating Abusive and Rampant Neglect of Interactive Technologies Act (EARN IT Act) removes blanket immunity for violations of laws related to online child sexual abuse material (CSAM).
The legislation unanimously passed the Senate Judiciary Committee today and has wide bipartisan support in Congress. It also has the backing of more than 250 groups, survivors and stakeholders, including the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children (NCMEC), Rights4Girls, the National Center on Sexual Exploitation, National District Attorneys Association, National Association of Police Organizations, Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network, International Justice Mission, and Major Cities Chiefs Association.
- Creates a strong incentive for the tech industry to take online child sexual exploitation seriously. The bill amends Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act to remove blanket immunity from Federal civil, State criminal, and State civil child sexual abuse material laws entirely. Service providers would be treated like everyone else when it comes to combating child sexual exploitation and eradicating CSAM, creating accountability.
- Establishes a National Commission on Online Child Sexual Exploitation Prevention that will be responsible for developing voluntary best practices. The Commission consists of the heads of DOJ, DHS, and FTC, along with 16 other members appointed equally by Congressional leadership, including representatives from: law enforcement, survivors and victims’ services organizations, constitutional law experts, technical experts, and industry.
- Recourse for survivors and tools for enforcement. The bill bolsters enforcement of child sexual abuse material statutes and allows survivors civil recourse.
“There are tens of millions of photos and videos circulating throughout the internet, showing the most heinous acts of sexual abuse and torture of children,” said Senator Graham. “The EARN IT Act removes Section 230 blanket liability protection from service providers in the area of child sexual abuse material on their sites. To all the victim groups and law enforcement entities urging Congress to do something about the scourge of child sexual abuse material and the exploitation of children on the internet: we hear you. The days of children being exploited on the internet and their families being unable to do anything about it are coming to an end. I am very pleased the committee passed this legislation and look forward to taking it up on the floor of the U.S. Senate.”
Watch Full EARN IT Act Press Conference Here