Legislation to hold tech companies accountable for child sexual exploitation passes Senate committee

The Senate Judiciary Committee has approved new legislation aimed at cracking down on online child sex abuse material.

The STOP CSAM Act cleared the committee on Thursday by a unanimous vote, and if passed into law, it will hold tech companies accountable for child sexual exploitation that appears on their platforms.

Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin, D-Ill., visited the Chicago Children's Advocacy Center on Friday to discuss the legislation, which expands protections for child victims and witnesses in federal court, enables restitution for victims of child exploitation, and gives victims the ability to ask tech companies to remove the material and related imagery from their platforms.

"The STOP CSAM Act allows victims of child sexual exploitation to bring a lawsuit in federal court against online providers that promote or facilitate this exploitation," Durbin said. "Second, this act creates a criminal penalty for the worst of the tech providers that knowingly promote or facilitate online child sexual exploitation."


Durbin’s bill also creates an administrative penalty for failing to comply with a removal request and expands the federal civil cause of action for child victims to permit victims of online child sexual exploitation to bring a civil cause of action against tech platforms and app stores.

The legislation comes as the number of victims identified in child sexual abuse material has risen from 2,172 in March 2009 to more than 21,413 victims in February 2022.

The number of reports to the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children’s CyberTipline concerning child sexual exploitation has also increased from 415,650 reports in 2012 to more than 32 million reports in 2022.