Survivors Call upon Congress to Act: A Response to the Senate Judiciary Hearing "Big Tech and the Online Sexual Exploitation of Children Crisis"

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1CEOs of Meta, X, TikTok, Snap, & Discord are sworn in for the Senate Judiciary hearing January 31, 2024

On Wednesday, January 31, members of Congress called Big Tech CEOs to account for how their technology has contributed to Online Sexual Exploitation of Children (OSEC). This problem has impacted minors globally; kids are coerced, exploited and abused on social media platforms. Blackmailers push have pushed children to suicide. Others are captured and abused to produce Child Sexual Abuse Material (CSAM) – made available to pedophiles via social media. The Global Survivors Network calls CEOs from Meta (Facebook/Instagram), X (Formerly Twitter), TikTok, Discord and Snapchat to take responsibility and to act to protect children from experiencing harm through their platforms.

Vanessa Bautista, founding member of the (GSN), joined other survivors at the capital for the hearing. Bautista speaks for the GSN and all victims of OSEC- “this is our cry of urgency – we want justice on all online platforms for all children around the world.” Congress has proposed a number of bills, including the EARN IT Act, STOP CSAM Act (S.1199), and REPORT Act to protect children online and hold tech companies accountable for how their platforms are being used.

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Photos of children harmed through online platforms, held up by the observing crowd.

During Wednesday’s hearing, Senator Kennedy (R - Louisiana) challenged Big Tech CEOs saying, “I just wonder if our technology is greater than our humanity.” Efforts to increase child protection on the internet had little effect in 2023, a year with “a record-breaking amount of child sexual abuse imagery,” according to the Internet Watch Foundation. GSN founder, Vanessa Bautista shared her story in response to the hearing challenging Big Tech to step up their game. Vanessa, an Asian American and a Filipino, knows the horrors of this and now speaks out for children in the Philippines:

“…sadly, child sexual abuse material (CSAM) is still one click away from perpetrators here in the US, and many other countries… 471,416 Filipino children were subjected to this crime last year – 1 in 100 children. 1 in 100 children that should have been in school, studying and playing with friends, but instead were taken to a room to be sexually abused in front of a camera live streamed to pedophiles around the world.

The Hearing on January 31 was a step towards holding Big Media Tech companies accountable for how their platforms are used as tools in the abuse of children. Legislation must be passed, if protection is going to be a reality. Members of the Senate have proposed the EARN IT Act, a step towards combating the rampant sexual exploitation of children via CSAM, globally. The GSN joins its voice with Bautista and survivors globally to urge the United States to act:

We are trusting that our lawmakers and technology platforms will listen to our voices and use their power to ensure/bring safety and accountability are held on all online platforms for all children around the world.

Vanessa Bautista Founding Member, Global Survivor Network Leadership Council