On Thursday, Senator Lindsey Graham threatened to repeal the part of federal law that gives social media companies broad protection from lawsuits over the content they publish if the companies stop efforts to make them liable for sexual content aimed at children.
The bipartisan EARN IT Act was approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee, which is co-sponsored by Democrat Senator Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut and Republican Graham. The bill would create exceptions to the Communications Decency Act, Section 230, to make companies liable for content that both sides have agreed are inappropriate for children.
However, frustrated Graham remarked during the meeting that the likelihood of further bill advancement needed to be more significant. He hinted that Big Tech’s Capitol Hill lobby is strong enough to keep the measure from reaching the Senate floor. The senator said if his preliminary efforts fail to curb Section 230. Graham said he’d move to kill the entire section and said Dems would support him.
“If this doesn’t work, I’m going to offer legislation to repeal Section 230, two years from whatever date the bill is enacted, and let the trial lawyers fix this problem,” warned Graham.
“To the social media companies: I’m glad to work with you, I want to work with you, but you’re eventually going to lose. And if I were you, I’d sit down with a bunch of us and try to figure a way to regulate your business so you can thrive and survive and protect the consumers because if you don’t, we’re gonna unleash the courtrooms of America against your business model,” Graham added.
Graham originally enacted the EARN IT Act in 2019, allowing victims of online sexual abuse to sue
Graham originally enacted the EARN IT Act in 2019, which would allow victims of online sexual abuse to sue the companies that distributed the content on their sites. Now, no litigation mechanisms for victims exist.
Although the bill has bipartisan support in the committee, Democrat Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer has not yet brought it to the floor for a vote. Neither did then-GOP Majority Leader Mitch McConnell in 2019.
However, Democrat Senator Dick Durbin, chairman of the Judiciary Committee, said he agrees with Graham’s plan.
“It’s time for the social media companies to face the reality,” said Durbin. “We can have these hearings after hearings after hearings. We can hear all the victims, and all the surviving parents tell these terrible stories. We can imagine them among our own children and grandchildren.”
“And then if we step back and say this is just too big and complicated, and we’re against too big a situation here, we can’t change it. Shame on us,” added Durbin.
In a statement, Graham said the “political and economic power of social media companies is overwhelming. I have little hope that common-sense proposals like this will ever become law because of these companies’ lobbying power at their disposal.”
“They go back three times; the company blows them off. The child kills themselves, and they can’t sue because of Section 230,” stated Graham.