Lawmakers’ Action to Protect Children Online: Will it Really Happen? Some Believe So.

In the final minutes of a congressional hearing on Wednesday in which tech chief executives were berated for not protecting children online, Senator Richard J. Durbin urged lawmakers to act to safeguard the internet’s youngest users. “No excuses,” he said. Lawmakers have long made similar statements about holding tech companies to account — and have little to show for it. Republicans and Democrats alike have at various points declared that it was time to regulate the tech giants over matters such as privacy and antitrust. Yet for years, that was where it ended: with no new federal regulations for the companies to follow. The question is whether this time will be different. At least six legislative proposals waiting in the wings in Congress target the spread of child sexual abuse material online and would require platforms such as Instagram, Snapchat, and TikTok to do more to protect minors. The efforts are backed by emotional accounts of children who were victimized online and died by suicide. The only federal internet law to pass in recent years, SESTA (for the Stop Enabling Sex Traffickers Act and the Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act), which made it easier for victims of sex trafficking to sue websites and online platforms, was approved in 2018, also after heart-wrenching testimony from a victim’s mother. Child safety is a personally relatable and visceral topic that is an easier political sell than some other matters. Any legislative progress on online child safety would be a counterpoint to the stasis that has enveloped Congress in recent years on other tech issues. Senators Amy Klobuchar, Democrat of Minnesota, and Josh Hawley, Republican of Missouri, as well as other lawmakers, have blamed the power of tech lobbyists for killing proposed rules. The Senate Judiciary Committee, which hosted Wednesday’s hearing, talked up five child safety bills directed at the tech platforms ahead of the hearing. Others were skeptical. For any proposals to pass, they will need support from congressional leaders.

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Moms Managing Girl Influencers: A Marketplace Stalked by Men

Elissa began receiving threatening messages early last year from a person calling themselves “Instamodelfan” targeting her daughter’s Instagram account. Despite having over 100,000 followers, the account has been under scrutiny for potentially exploiting children in exchange for money. However, the issue runs deeper than that. Research from The New York Times found that the platform […]

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Insights from The Times’s Investigation of Child Influencers

Instagram maintains the 13-year-old minimum age for accounts, but parents can take control, largely for their daughters’ ambitions to become influencers. Parents initiate their child’s modeling career or gain favor from clothing brands, but a dark subculture emerges, controlled by men attracted to minors, as per The New York Times. The emergence of mom-run profiles […]

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Rising Threat: China’s Growing Cyber Espionage and the New Vulnerability

Beijing’s Networks Expanding Hacking Efforts China has spread its hacking reach with new tools that exploit computer vulnerabilities and a network of contracted vendors. The large scale of China’s hacking operations poses a significant threat, with the FBI reporting China’s hacking program to be larger than all major nations combined. The U.S. has tracked consistent […]

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