EARN IT Act won't prevent abuse, child protection group claims
Prevention resources could be censored by companies to minimize their liability risk
San Francisco — March 5, 2020 — The Eliminating Abusive and Rampant Neglect of Interactive Technologies Act (EARN IT Act), which was introduced into Congress today, has been criticized by child protection group Prostasia Foundation as being unlikely to achieve its stated goal of encouraging Internet companies to take online child sexual exploitation more seriously.
“The claims of the bill’s sponsors that Internet companies benefit from ‘immunity from laws against child pornography’ are nonsense,” said Prostasia’s Executive Director Jeremy Malcolm today. “Under existing law, companies have a legal responsibility to report suspected child pornography to the NCMEC CyberTipline, and the fact that such reports have grown year on year is evidence that companies are becoming more successful in eliminating this horrific content.”
The EARN IT Act would establish a new National Commission on Online Child Sexual Exploitation Prevention with the power to make recommendations on how companies should act to reduce online child exploitation. If they choose not to follow these recommendations, and cannot prove that they have taken other reasonable steps to minimize child exploitation, they would face new criminal and civil penalties.
“Child safety is too important an issue to be politicized,” Malcolm said. “That’s what the EARN IT Act would do, by stacking a new commission with political appointees who will favor an approach to child exploitation prevention that undermines online safety and security. Why are there no mental health experts on this committee? Why are there no practitioners who work on preventing perpetrators from offending in the first place?”
Prostasia Foundation will be presenting in May at the joint conference of the National Adolescent Perpetration Network (NAPN) and Oregon Adolescent Sex Offending Treatment Network (OASOTN) about how Internet-based support resources can be used to guide potential perpetrators towards sources of support that can prevent them from ever offending.
“The EARN IT Act could place companies at risk for hosting such prevention resources on the Internet,” Malcolm claimed. “This could increase, not reduce child sexual abuse. The last thing that we need in this difficult fight is to have it further politicized. Let’s leave child sexual abuse prevention to the experts, rather than handing it over to a government committee.”
For further information:
Jeremy Malcolm (Executive Director)
+1 415 650 2557 – [email protected]
Prostasia's website: https://prostasia.org