Lawmakers target tech companies in fight against child sex abuse

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WASHINGTON — The Justice Department announced a new initiative aimed at encouraging tech companies to do more to fight online child sex abuse and a bipartisan group of lawmakers introduced a new bill aimed at ensuring they do.

Under current law, online platforms face limited legal responsibility for child pornography posted on their websites.

Lawmakers introduced the “Earn It Act” that would require tech companies to earn that protection. It also calls for the establishment of a commission to measure whether tech companies are meeting certain goals.

“This proposal is really about children who are victims of horrendous cruel abuse,” said Sen. Blumenthal (D-CT). “Nineteen members representative of the industry, child advocates, government officials who will propose those kinds of guidelines.”

The bill faces opposition from some in the tech industry and Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) says the Earn It Act will give the Trump administration control over online speech.

The Justice Department also announced new guidelines on Thursday.

“A set of voluntary principles to ensure platforms and services have the systems they need to combat online sexual exploitation of children,” said U.S. Attorney General William Barr.

The guidelines encourage tech companies to monitor live streams and prevent searches for child pornography.

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