Durbin Delivers Opening Statement During Judiciary Subcommittee Hearing On Social Media Platform Accountability & Opportunities For Reform

Durbin: Something needs to change so online platforms have an incentive to protect kids. And if they don’t, they should be held civilly liable

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL), Chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, today delivered an opening statement at the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Privacy, Technology, and the Law hearing entitled, “Platform Accountability: Gonzalez and Reform.”  The hearing examined social media platform accountability and opportunities for reform. 

Key quotes:

“We had a rather historic meeting of the Judiciary Committee just a few weeks ago… the hearing considered the subject of protecting kids online.  One of the witnesses we heard from, Kristin Bride, was a mother with a son who died by suicide after he was mercilessly bullied on anonymous messaging apps.  There were several other mothers in attendance carrying color photos of their kids who suffered similar heartbreak.”

“In addition to tragically losing children, these mothers had something else in common: they couldn’t hold the online platforms that played a role in their child’s death accountable.  The reason?  Section 230.”

“Coincidently, after that hearing, I had a meeting with Administrator of the Drug Enforcement Administration, Anne Milgram.  She described for me how illegal and counterfeit drugs are sold over the internet to kids, often with devastating results… When I asked her what online platforms were doing to stop it, she told me: very little and refusing to cooperate with her agency to investigate… these platforms know these drug transactions are happening.  What are they doing about them?  Almost nothing.  Why?  Section 230.”

“In our hearing last month, there seemed to be a consensus emerging—Democrats and Republicans—that we’ve got to do something to make Section 230 make sense.  Something needs to change so online platforms have an incentive to protect children.  And if they don’t, they should be held liable in civil actions.” 

Last month, the Senate Judiciary Committee held a full committee hearing entitled, “Protecting Our Children Online.”  The hearing examined the challenge of ensuring online child safety and privacy, with witnesses testifying to the risks, threats, and harms that children face in the online world.  Durbin’s opening statement and witness questions from that hearing are available here and here. 

Video of Durbin’s opening statement is available here.

Audio of Durbin’s opening statement is available here.

Footage of Durbin’s opening statement is available here for TV Stations.