Democratic Senator Dick Durbin Joins Press Conference Alongside Anti-Porn Crusading Group NCOSE

Democratic Senator Dick Durbin Joins Press Conference Alongside Anti-Porn Crusading Group NCOSE

WASHINGTON — Democratic U.S. Senator for Illinois Dick Durbin participated in a joint press conference Wednesday organized by Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham to marshal support for the controversial Eliminating Abusive and Rampant Neglect of Interactive Technologies Act (EARN IT), alongside crusading anti-porn group NCOSE (formerly Morality in Media).

Graham announced the event through a post on X.com, promoting it as “a press conference on the need to pass legislation to protect kids online and hold Big Tech accountable.”

The post touted the participation of Durbin, and staff from NCOSE, Protect All Children from Trafficking (PACT) and International Justice Mission (IJM). Graham championed an earlier version of EARN IT when he chaired the Senate’s Judiciary Committee, a position now occupied by Durbin. 

Durbin hailed Wednesday’s press conference as an example of bipartisanship, noting that one year ago, the Senate Judiciary Committee, which he chairs, passed five online speech regulation bills with the unanimous support of all Democrats and Republican committee members. Durbin claimed that those bills were designed to make minors “safer online.” According to an IJM statement, speakers at the press conference included NCOSE CEO Dawn Hawkins, a conservative Mormon activist who was key in changing the branding of Morality in Media to downplay its religiously-inspired pro-censorship core mission.

Leading free speech groups, including Free Speech Coalition, Electronic Frontier Foundation and the Woodhull Freedom Foundation, have expressed serious concerns about the EARN IT Act, which has been floated by anti-Section 230 lawmakers for several years.

Woodhull President and CEO Ricci Joy Levy called the 2022 version of the EARN IT Act “an attack on internet freedom, an attack on the First Amendment and an attack on human rights.”

A Woodhull rep explained that the EARN IT Act “would make internet platforms legally liable for any illegal sexual content posted to their platforms or service — even if they aggressively block and immediately remove such content.”

The rep added that the proposed law “incentivizes internet platforms to broadly censor legal speech under the pretense of pursuing illegal content.”

Durbin’s appearance alongside NCOSE continues the trend of Democratic lawmakers raising the profile of the organization they largely avoided before 2015, when Hawkins spearheaded the group’s "secularwashing."

Under Hawkins’ leadership, NCOSE has found success sharing projects and podia with supposedly progressive legislators, who align themselves with the group in the name of bipartisanship, although the well-funded anti-porn and anti-sex work organization claims to be nonpartisan.

As XBIZ reported, in March Democratic New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez issued a press statement about her deepfake legislation proposal, which prominently highlighted NCOSE and Hawkins’ support.

Ocasio-Cortez’s office refused to answers questions about why the legislator, who has professed support for sex workers’ rights, chose to highlight an organization that seeks to criminalize all sex work and eradicate adult content, and that has an extensive, well-documented history of championing state censorship and opposing LGBTQ+ rights.

Wednesday’s press conference was posted on YouTube by Graham, although his account disabled comments on the video.

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