Legislation seeks to hold online platforms accountable for child sex material

For Clay Today
Posted 2/17/21

Tallahassee, Florida - Senator Jennifer Bradley (R-Fleming Island) and Representative Scott Plakon (R-Longwood) filed legislation today targeted at social media companies for allowing images of child …

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Legislation seeks to hold online platforms accountable for child sex material

Posted

Tallahassee, Florida - Senator Jennifer Bradley (R-Fleming Island) and Representative Scott Plakon (R-Longwood) filed legislation today targeted at social media companies for allowing images of child exploitation to be viewed on their platforms. The bills (HB 995 & SB 1308) will give victims a cause of action against those social media companies that refuse to remove these harmful images and videos after being notified by a parent or a guardian of the minor victim. The bill proposes that a daily civil fine of $100,000 be assessed for each day the images remain on the platform beginning 24 hours after the platform is notified in writing. Funds collected from this civil penalty will be deposited in the Crimes Compensation Trust Fund administered by Attorney General Ashley Moody's office.

The legislators were motivated to file the bills upon learning of an existing lawsuit against Twitter involving a minor in Florida. In this case, the platform allowed a video of a 13-year-old minor who was being exploited to remain on their site for nine days after both the parent and the victim notified Twitter and provided proof that the images were of a young child. The child sex abuse material was finally taken down only after the Department of Homeland Security stepped in. The video had accrued over 167,000 views and 2,223 retweets, the complaint noted. Lisa Haba of The Haba Law Firm is the attorney representing the victim and a constituent in Representative Plakon's district.

"Social media is a prevalent part of the lives of young people in Florida," said Senator Bradley. "As adults and leaders, it's our responsibility to make sure that children are protected from cybercrime, public humiliation and on line harassment. If social media companies will not do their part to protect them, then we will."

"As we see in this case and in other instances, for far too long social media has been used by predators to harm children. If on line platforms like Twitter refuse to stop these crimes on their own, we will empower parents to hold them accountable," said Representative Plakon.

Lisa Haba says "Our lawsuit seeks to shine a light on how Twitter has enabled and profited from child sexual abuse material on its platform, choosing profits over people, money over the safety of children, and wealth at the expense of human freedom and human dignity. I would like to thank Senator Bradley and Representative Scott Plakon for championing this cause to keep our children safe."

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