Durbin Outlines Strong Momentum for His Stop CSAM Act, The Need for Action on Children's Online Safety on the Senate Floor

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL), Chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, took to the Senate floor to outline the strong momentum for his STOP CSAM Act and the need for action on children’s online safety.

Durbin began by recapping the Senate Judiciary Committee’s historic hearing on January 31st on Big Tech’s failures to protect kids from sexual exploitation online, as well as the remarkable bipartisan note struck in the committee on this issue.

“That hearing demonstrated that kids' online safety has widespread bipartisan support … I can't think of another topic where we have had a unanimous vote … by every member of the committee. Democrat and Republican, all 21. The emotion I witnessed during that hearing and the faces of survivors, parents, and family members were unforgettable,” Durbin said.

Durbin continued by making the case to amend Section 230, which shields tech companies from liability and has remained largely unchanged for the past 30 years.

“Many people ask: ‘I thought we had laws in this country protecting children? What's going on?’ Well, there is Section 230, which basically absolves these media companies from responsibility from what is displayed on their websites. That's exactly what we change here. We say something basic and fundamental: ‘If the social media site knowingly and intentionally continue[s] to display these images, they're subject to civil liability. They can be sued.’ Want to change this scene in a hurry? Turn the lawyers loose on them,” said Durbin.

Durbin then pressed for floor action on a package of bills to address children’s online safety, including the bills unanimously passed out of the Senate Judiciary Committee.

“I am happy to have the cosponsorship of Senator Graham and others. We believe this package of bills should come to the floor today … Let's have a debate. Let's hear the other side of the story, if there is one. For goodness sakes, for parents and grandparents across America and particularly for their kids, let's do something to protect them that is fundamental and basic,” said Durbin.

Later, Durbin addressed his continued engagements with stakeholders to ensure the bill is fine-tuned and ready for passage.

“I’m working on a modification on my bill to bring some more support to make sure we consider everyone's point of view. But, we do believe something should be done to protect these families once and for all,” concluded Durbin.

This Congress, the Committee has unanimously reported multiple bipartisan bills to help stop the exploitation of kids online, including:

  • The STOP CSAM Act, which supports victims and increases accountability and transparency for online platforms;
  • The EARN IT Act, which removes tech’s blanket immunity from civil and criminal liability under child sexual abuse material laws and establishes a National Commission on Online Child Sexual Exploitation Prevention;
  • The SHIELD Act, which ensures that federal prosecutors have appropriate and effective tools to address the nonconsensual distribution of sexual imagery;
  • The Project Safe Childhood Act, which modernizes the investigation and prosecution of online child exploitation crimes; and,
  • The REPORT Act, which combats the rise in online child sexual exploitation by establishing new measures to help strengthen reporting of those crimes to the CyberTipline.

Visit this webpage for an overview of the Committee’s efforts, including descriptions of the pending legislation and a timeline of events.

Video of Durbin’s remarks on the floor is available here.

Audio of Durbin’s remarks on the floor is available here.

Footage of Durbin’s remarks on the floor is available here for TV Stations.