The Senate Judiciary Committee has called the leaders of
Discord, Snap, and X to testify on December 6 for their alleged failure to protect children from sexual abuse online.
“Big Tech’s failure to police itself at the expense of our kids cannot go unanswered,” committee chair Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) and ranking member Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) said in a joint statement, adding that the CEOs would “have their chance to explain their failures to protect kids.”
“Hearing from the CEOs of some of the world's largest social media companies will help inform the Committee's efforts to address the crisis of online child sexual exploitation,” the senators said.
Child abuse is a proven problem across social-media platforms. According to the FBI, over 50% of victims of online sexual exploitation are between the ages of 12 and 15 with an estimated 500,000 online predators active each day.
While X's head of U.S. and Canada government affairs Wilfredo Fernandez said the company is working to comply with the subpoena, Durbin said in the joint statement that X and Discord have refused an electronic service of the subpoenas, “requiring the Committee to enlist the assistance of the U.S. Marshals Service to personally serve the subpoenas.”
In addition to this issue, the Committee has reported multiple bipartisan bills focused on preventing the exploitation of children online. This includes the STOP CSAM Act, which aims to support victims of online child abuse by increasing accountability and transparency for online platforms, as well as the EARN IT Act, which would revise Section 230 and strip tech companies of protection from civil lawsuits over user-generated posts containing child sexual abuse material.
However, both bills have proven controversial in relation to the future of online expression, user privacy, and the existence of end-to-end encryption.