Summary of Congressional Senate and House Bills to Prevent Online Child Sexual Abuse and Exploitation

updated Feb. 5th, 2024

On Jan. 31st in Congress, the Senate Judiciary Committee held a public hearing on the crisis of online Child Sexual Exploitation (CSE) and how X (formerly Twitter), TikTok, Snap (Snapchat), Meta (Facebook and Instagram) and Discord are contributing to the crisis and should improve their policies to protect children. Currently, 9 bills are being considered in Congress to address the problem. Click here to download a summary of what the bills would do, or read the details below.

EARN IT Act (Eliminating Abusive and Rampant Neglect of Interactive Technologies Act)

S 1207, Sens. Graham (R-SC) & Blumenthal (D-CT): + 23 co-sponsors [14 Rep, 9 Dem]

Passed Senate Judiciary Committee on May 15, 2023

HR 2732, Reps. Wagner (R-MO) & Garcia (D-TX): + 24 co-sponsors [20 Rep, 4 Dem]

• Clarifies Congress never intended CDA 230 to give ISPs blanket immunity from liability for facilitating CSAM—as US courts have unfortunately ruled.

• Gives victims of CSAM a path to justice and hold platforms accountable that knowingly allow for the distribution and sharing of child sexual abuse material.

• Renames “child pornography” “child sexual abuse material” in federal statute.

• Enhances tools for the National Center on Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) and requires reporting of child sex trafficking and online enticement.

• Creates a federal Online Child Exploitation Prevention Commission to establish best practices and recommendations to inform policy, the judiciary, and law enforcement community (SENATE ONLY).

Kids Online Safety Act (KOSA)

S 1409, Sens. Blumenthal (D-CT) & Blackburn (R-TN): + 46 co-sponsors [24 Rep, 22 Dem]

Passed Senate Commerce Committee on July 27, 2023

• Requires social media companies to provide safeguards and tools for minors and parents and enable the strongest safety settings by default.

• Creates a duty of care for online platforms to prevent and mitigate harms to children.

• Creates a transparency standard by providing academic and public interest groups access to platforms data to review the harms identified and platforms responses.

Project Safe Childhood Act

S 1170, Sens Cornyn (R-TX) & Klobuchar (D-MN): + 19 co-sponsors [10 Dem, 9 Rep]

Passed Senate Judiciary Committee on May 15, 2023; PASSED Senate on October 24, 2023

HR 2661, Reps Wasserman Schultz (D-FL) & Hunt (R-TX): + 7 co-sponsors [5 Rep, 2 Dem]

• Modernizes DOJ’s Project Safe Childhood Program to address child sexual exploitation

• Require U.S. Attorneys to create high-priority, victim-centered, and district-specific targeting plans for federal law enforcement to identify perpetrators abusing children.

• Requires the U.S. Attorney General to develop best practices for addressing these cases

• Improves LE coordination with the Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) Task Forces

• Provides funding for 20 DOJ prosecutors dedicated to child sexual exploitation cases.

SHIELD Act (Stopping Harmful Image Exploitation and Limiting Distribution Act)

S 412, Sens Klobuchar (D-MN) & Cornyn (R-TX): + 7 co-sponsors [4 Dem, 3 Rep] – Passed Senate Judiciary Committee on May 17, 2023

HR 3686, Reps Dean (D-PA) & Plaskett (D-VI): +7 co-sponsors [4 Rep, 3 Dem]

• Establishes a criminal offense to knowingly mail or distribute, or threaten to distribute an intimate visual depiction of an individual without their consent

• Establishes a criminal offense for the distribution of a visual depiction of a nude minor with the intent to abuse, humiliate, harass, or degrade the minor to arouse any person.

• Subjects a violator to a fine, prison term of five years, or both.                                                                                      

REPORT Act (Revising Existing Procedures on Reporting via Technology Act)

S 474, Sens Blackburn (R-TN) & Ossoff (D-GA): +4 co-sponsors [2 Rep, 2 Dem] – Passed Senate Judiciary Committee on June 6, 2023

HR 5082, Reps Lee (R-FL) & Lee (D-NV): +9 co-sponsors [6 Rep, 3 Dem]

  • Requires platforms to report child sex trafficking and enticement, two crimes not currently required that are underreported.
  • Increases penalties for platforms for failure to report exploitive content.
  • Extends the retention period required of platforms from 90 days to 1 year to allow for adequate time for law enforcement to conduct investigations.
STOP CSAM Act ( Strengthening Transparency and Obligations to Protect Children Suffering from Abuse and Mistreatment Act)

S 1199, Sens Durbin (D-IL) & Hawley (R-MO) +4 co-sponsors [3 Rep, 1 Dem] – Passed Senate Judiciary Committee on May 15, 2023

• Extends statutory provisions to include child victims of kidnapping and mandates child privacy protections continue to apply even after a victim is 18 years of age.

• Gives courts the authority to appoint trustees to manage victim restitution funds.

• Strengthens NCMEC’s CyberTipline by requiring a report whenever a provider finds CSAM, regardless of whether the provider believes a violation has occurred.

• Mandates providers report exploitive content within 60 days of becoming aware of content, and they must remove publicly available CSAM that is the subject of a report.

• Establishes a Child Online Protection Board to facilitate the removal of CSAM.

Preventing Child Sex Abuse Act

S 724, Sens Grassley (R-IA) & Ossoff (D-GA): +3 co-sponsors [2 Dem, 1 Rep] – Passed Senate on March 8, 2023; Approved as part of Senate NDAA package July 27, 2023

HR 454, Reps Burchett (R-TN) and Cuellar (D-TX)

• Makes changes to the federal law prohibiting child sexual tourism.

• Revises the specific intent requirement to one which requires proof of intent to engage in illicit sexual conduct when traveling or facilitating travel.

• Establishes new criminal offenses for acts in furtherance of illicit sexual conduct.

• Specifies that the term sexual activity for which any person can be charged with a criminal offense does not require interpersonal physical contact.

Child Online Safety Modernization Act (COSMA)

HR 5182, Reps Wagner (R-MO) & Garcia (D-TX): + 23 co-sponsors [18 Rep, 5 Dem]

• Modernizes and strengthens NCMEC’s CyberTipLine by requiring online platforms to file a report whenever a provider finds CSAM, and requires those reports to include information that helps law enforcement identify and locate the child depicted.

• Extends the retention period required of platforms from 90 days to 1 year.

• Renames “child pornography” “child sexual abuse material” in U.S. federal code.

Stop Human Trafficking in School Zones Act

HR 30, Reps Jackson Lee (D-TX) & McCaul (R-TX): + 5 co-sponsors [4 Rep, 1 Dem]

• Provides necessary protections for children in public spaces, including schools, school-sponsored activities, playground, or public housing facility.

• Enhances the sentencing penalty by up to five years for human trafficking offenses and sex offenses involving minors that occur within 1000 feet of a school, or 100 feet of places where children gather.