End OSEAC Survivors’ Council statement for the record for Jan. 31 hearing


WRITTEN TESTIMONY BY End OSEAC Coalition’s Survivors’ Council, End Online Sexual Exploitation and Abuse of Children Coalition

For a Hearing Entitled: Big Tech and the Online Child Sexual Exploitation Crisis

Wednesday, January 31st, 2023

Dear Chairman Durbin, Ranking Member Graham, and esteemed members of the Senate Judiciary,

We, the members of the End Online Sexual Abuse and Exploitation of Children (OSEAC) Coalition Survivors’ Council, write to fully endorse and demand support for radical change across social media platforms such as X, Meta, Snap, Discord, and TikTok. This change must occur immediately and through the support of legislation like the EARN IT Act, the REPORT Act, the SHIELD Act, and the STOP CSAM Act.

Social media and technology have become ever-changing realms. We have seen the growth of these respective platforms exponentially as change across social media occurs every second. As more people begin and continue to gain access to social media, it is without a doubt that this has created an incredibly harmful reality for children, parents, and society as a whole.

With the growth and accessibility of social media comes the ability for predators and other dangerous individuals to have easier access to children. This accessibility also causes childhood sexual abuse materials (CSAM) to be further disseminated across multi-layered platforms. According to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC), over 85 million images and videos of child sexual abuse were found online, indefinitely remaining on the Internet.1 Furthermore, according to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, 50% of the victims of online sexual exploitation are children ages 12 to 15. These are only two of the plethora of alarming statistics regarding CSAM and its existence online.

We can only imagine these numbers will grow as social media use develops. For this reason, the time to take action that mitigates these risks is now. For far too long, children have suffered horrible consequences due to a lack of accountability by major corporations and their blanket immunity. The plight of survivors is only heightened by mass apathy regarding the sexual assault, grooming, and exploitation of children online. Why is it that the safety of social media users, especially as the number of children accessing these platforms grows daily, is not prioritized? The protection of children against sexual predators must be of the utmost importance to Congress and the Social Media Companies that testified before you. We want to say there cannot be any more delays regarding change. We need to pass legislation that prioritizes online safety. The alarming number of children falling victim to exploitation demands government intervention, and we implore you to not prolong this process any further, as time is of the essence.

To truly see an end to Online Sexual Exploitation (OSEC), every sector has to play a role. It is our collective responsibility to protect the innocence and well-being of our children in the digital age. We call upon parents, social media companies, Congress, schools, and civil society to take immediate action to create a safer online environment for our children.

To the Tech CEOs who testified, we demand that you invest in tools that provide practical online moderating abilities and safety by their design. This includes but is not limited to actively monitoring social media, committing to removing CSAM, and accurately reporting its existence on these platforms. Furthermore, it means investing in parental controls so a trusted adult can access their child’s social media for further protection and monitoring. It is concerning that predators can operate freely on your platforms, perpetrating these heinous crimes while you seemingly take no action. By failing to act, you become complicit in these atrocities. We implore you to do what is right and take steps to protect our children. This is an opportunity to be a leader in the movement and serve as an example of effective change.

According to our suggested actions, these platforms must consider, invest in, and immediately utilize online safety features. A safer, more equitable social media presence is possible for users everywhere and we can ensure a safer space for them.

Please remember that we are speaking from our own experiences. We, the members of the End OSEAC Survivors’ Council, continue to be directly impacted by this issue and its pervasiveness. The horrific and dark truth about the online sexual exploitation of children is that it’s an ongoing crime. Our images and videos continue to be found online and are a constant reminder of the horrors we went through. They are just one click away from the hands of predators here in the U.S. and across the globe. We are tired of seeing the retraumatization of our fellow survivors.

Today and every day, we cry out for justice. We hope that lawmakers and tech owners will hear our voices and ensure the safety of children on their platforms. Together, let us work towards a future where our children can grow up without fear, where their innocence is preserved, and where online platforms prioritize the safety and well-being of every child. The time for action is now.

Thank You,

End OSEAC Coalition Survivors’ Council

1 https://www.missingkids.org/cybertiplinedata

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