Fentanyl Sales on Social Media to Be Targeted in Bipartisan Bill

  • Senators want measure passed before the end of the year
  • Reporting duties would be imposed on social media companies

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Senators are gearing up to introduce legislation that would force social media companies to report illegal fentanyl activity on their platforms to law enforcement.

Lawmakers are zeroing in on the online sale of illegal drugs, which have been linked to a surge in US overdose deaths. Republicans plan to increase scrutiny of such transactions, and tech companies’ role in curtailing them, when they take control of the House next year.

Sen. Roger Marshall (R-Kan.) found Democratic backing from Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) for an updated version of his Cooper Davis Act (S. 4858), first introduced in September, Marshall’s office told Bloomberg Government.

The bill narrows the scope of drug activity that platforms would have to report to that related to fentanyl, methamphetamine, and counterfeit substance manufacturing. It also increases penalties relative to the original version of the bill and includes safeguards for the preservation of data.

Marshall and Shaheen—chair of the Appropriations Commerce, Justice, and Science Subcommittee — are pushing to pass the bill before the end of the year. Congressional staff worked through the weekend on a government funding package that can be a vehicle for the bill.

The legislation is named after a Kansas teenager who lost his life to fentanyl poisoning last summer, and incorporates feedback from law enforcement and federal officials, the sponsors said.

“That day, Cooper made a decision that ended his life, and like so many other teens across our country, he did not get the chance to learn from his mistake,” Cooper’s mother, Libby Davis, said in an email. “A higher level of accountability for social media companies as it relates to illicit drug activity is needed more than ever.”

The bill also reflects the input of Snap Inc., which operates Snapchat, the sponsors said.

To contact the reporter on this story: Maria Curi in Washington at mcuri@bloombergindustry.com

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Anna Yukhananov at ayukhananov@bloombergindustry.com; Sarah Babbage at sbabbage@bgov.com

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