US Senate Hearing - Platform Accountability: Gonzalez and Reform - Mar 8 2023
Richard Blumenthal

Subcommittee on Privacy Technology and Law is convened. We are a subcommittee of the Judiciary Committee and the chairman of our committee is with us today. I want to thank all of our panel for being here, all of the members of the audience who are attending, my ranking member colleague, partner in this effort, Senator Hawley.

I'm going to turn first to the chairman because he has an obligation on the floor for some opening remarks. We're very pleased that he's with us today.

Dick Durbin

Senator Blumenthal and Senator Hawley. Thank you for holding this important meeting. We had a rather historic meeting of the Senate Judiciary Committee just a few weeks ago.

I think everybody agreed on the subject matter of the hearing. I don't know when that's ever happened, at least recently. And it was encouraging the hearing considered the subject of protecting kids online. One of the witnesses we heard from Kristen Bride, a mother with a son who died by suicide after he was mercilessly bullied on an anonymous messaging app.

There were several other mothers in attendance carrying colored photos of their kids. Who've suffered similar heartbreak. In addition to tragically losing children, these mothers had something else in co common. They couldn't hold the online platform that played a role in their child's death accountable.

The reason Section 230, well known to everyone who's taken a look at this industry, coincidentally, after that hearing, I had a meeting with the administrator of the Drug Enforcement Administration, Anne Milgram. She described for me how illegal and counterfeit drugs are sold over the Internet to kids, often with devastating results.

When I asked her what online platforms were doing to stop it, she said very little and refusing to cooperate with her agency to even investigate. I asked her, how do they deliver these drugs by mail? What? Oh no. By valet service, they bring boxes of these counterfeit drugs, deadly drugs, leave them on the front porch of the homes of these kids. Imagine this, that we're talking about a medium that is facilitating that to occur in America. These platforms know these drug transactions are happening. What are they doing about 'em? Almost nothing.

Why Section 230? In our hearing last month, they're seen to be a consensus, emerging Democrats and Republicans that we've gotta do something to make Section 230, make.

Something needs to change. So online platforms have an incentive to protect children, and if they don't, they should be held liable in civil actions. I look forward to hearing from the witnesses today. I'm sorry I can't stay because I've a measure on the floor to consider in a few minutes, but I will review your testimony and thank you for your input.

Richard Blumenthal

Thank you, Mr Chairman, Ranking Member. Thanks very much. Senator Durbin. I think it is a mark of the importance and the imminence of reform that Senator Durbin is here today. His leadership led to the hearing that we had just a couple weeks ago, showing the harms really desperate, despicable harms that can result from some of the content on the Internet and the need to hold accountable, the people who put it there.