S. 3538 would limit the immunity of providers of interactive computer services in federal lawsuits, expand reporting requirements on such providers, and establish the National Commission on Online Child Sexual Exploitation Prevention.
Direct Spending and Revenues
S. 3538 would amend the legal framework for preventing the online sexual exploitation and trafficking of children. The bill would limit the immunity of providers of interactive computer services, such as Internet providers and social media companies, in federal civil lawsuits. Under current law, those entities cannot be held liable, with some exceptions, in lawsuits for content that is created by their users. S. 3538 would eliminate that immunity for content containing child pornography and other sexually explicit material involving a minor. CBO expects that S. 3538 would result in a small increase in the number of civil suits filed against providers of interactive computer services in federal courts. That would increase filing fees collected by federal courts, a portion of which may be spent by the judiciary without further appropriation.
In addition, S. 3538 would expand reporting requirements to the CyberTipline, the national reporting system for online child exploitation, for service providers and data storage companies. It also would lengthen the time that those entities must preserve information about any such submissions. Based on conversations with the Department of Justice (DOJ), CBO expects that those requirements would increase the number of successful criminal prosecutions. Criminal fines are recorded in the budget as revenues, deposited into the Crime Victims Fund, and later spent without further appropriation.
Based on information from DOJ, CBO estimates that, in total, enacting S. 3538 would increase revenues and direct spending by less than $500,000 over the 2023-2032 period.