Durbin, Grassley, Klobuchar Join Marshall, Shaheen, Young To Introduce Bipartisan Bill Holding Big Tech Accountable For Online Drug Deals

WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL), Chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, and U.S. Senators Chuck Grassley (R-IA) and Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), members of the Senate Judiciary Committee, joined Senators Roger Marshall (R-KS), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), and Todd Young (R-IN) to introduce the bipartisan Cooper Davis Act, legislation that would require Big Tech companies to take a more proactive role against drug dealers preying on America’s youth on social media.

“Our country is facing both a kids’ online safety crisis and a fentanyl crisis. Today, drug dealers can easily target kids through social media platforms. We need an all-hands-on-deck approach to curb the devastation caused by fentanyl, which we discussed in a recent hearing on kids’ online safety in the Senate Judiciary Committee. By holding Big Tech accountable for reporting when their platforms are used for illicit fentanyl trafficking, this bill will help equip law enforcement with information to fight fentanyl and protect kids,” said Durbin. 

“Tens of thousands of Americans are dying to drug overdoses, particularly because of illegally trafficked fentanyl. Law enforcement has found tragic numbers of overdoses cases tied to major social media platforms. It’s critical that there’s a comprehensive system for these companies to aid federal authorities so we can stop this poison,” said Grassley.

“As we continue working to combat the fentanyl epidemic, we must prevent these deadly drugs from being easily sold through social media. By requiring social media companies to report illicit fentanyl trafficking on their platforms, our bipartisan legislation will help law enforcement crack down on these illegal sales and protect kids,” said Klobuchar. 

“Fentanyl is flooding into our communities. Just this month, Kansas authorities made busts in both Dickinson County and Montgomery County that resulted in finding nearly 15,000 fake pills laced with fentanyl. This deadly drug is killing a Kansan almost every single day. This is a crisis and sadly our children do not know what they’re up against. If our nation is going to win this fight, we need Big Tech companies to crack down on drug dealers pushing this poison on their platforms to vulnerable teenagers like Cooper Davis and thousands of others,” said Marshall.

The Cooper Davis Act would require social media companies and other communication service providers to take on a more active role in working with federal agencies to combat the illegal sale and distribution of drugs on their platforms by creating a standardized and comprehensive framework:

  • Requires communication service providers to report to the DEA on the sale or distribution of illicit drugs including fentanyl, methamphetamine, or a counterfeit controlled substance.
  • Bolsters DEA’s existing data infrastructure to improve intelligence gathering on drug dealers operating across various online communication platforms.
  • Improves coordination with other federal agencies, foreign agencies, and state and local law enforcement.

The bill is in honor of Cooper Davis, a 16-year-old Kansas teen who tragically lost his life to a counterfeit prescription drug laced with fentanyl in August 2021. It was later discovered that a drug dealer solicited Mr. Davis through a popular social media platform, Snapchat. 

“We are incredibly honored to have Cooper’s name on this very important bill that could save countless American lives. Drug traffickers should not be able to use social media platforms as an integral part of their business plan for the marketing and distribution of illicit drugs. Accountability and oversight are desperately needed to ensure absolutely everything is being done to keep illegal activity off these platforms,” said Libby Davis, Cooper’s mother and founder of the Cooper Davis Memorial Foundation.  

Last month, Durbin led the Senate Judiciary Committee in 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

Bill text can be found here.