On the Senate floor, U.S. Senator Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) called for unanimous consent to pass bipartisan legislation aimed at combating the proliferation of child sexual abuse material (CSAM) online. The proposed legislation, known as the STOP CSAM Act, seeks to empower victims to file civil lawsuits against Big Tech companies that knowingly allow CSAM content on their platforms.
Senator Hawley criticized these companies for their role in perpetuating harm against children, stating, “These companies are the most profitable in the world. They are the biggest companies in the history of the world… Here they are making hand over fist on destroying America’s children… This is the only industry in the country that can make a product that will kill you, and if it does, you cannot do anything about it.”
He further emphasized the need for accountability, highlighting that Big Tech companies have been granted immunity from being held responsible for the content on their platforms. “This body almost thirty years ago gave these corporations a total blanket immunity that they cannot be held responsible… Until victims can get into court and have the rights and dignity of every other American, challenging any other company, this will not change. Congress created this problem by giving the most powerful companies in the world a sweetheart deal,” Hawley stated.
However, Senator Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) objected to the unanimous passage of the bill. Despite this setback, Senator Hawley noted the STOP CSAM Act’s unanimous bipartisan support within the Judiciary Committee and vowed to continue pushing for votes on the legislation until justice is achieved for the victims.
In a recent Senate Judiciary hearing, Senator Hawley questioned Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg about child exploitation on his social media platforms. Zuckerberg apologized to the victims’ families present at the hearing but did not commit to compensating them for their suffering due to his platform’s inaction.
In May 2023, Senators Hawley and Durbin reached an agreement to advance the STOP CSAM Act, which subsequently passed the Committee unanimously. Following the adoption of his amendments, Senator Hawley became the first Republican co-sponsor of the legislation.