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'It's going to help save lives': Shawnee teen's fentanyl death sparks bill in U.S. Senate

Cooper Davis Act
Posted at 4:33 PM, Sep 16, 2022

OVERLAND PARK, Kan. — A bill filed in the U.S. Senate would require social media companies to report illegal drug deals on their platforms to the Department of Justice. It's been named the Cooper Davis Act.

It's named after Cooper Davis, 16, who died last August from a fentanyl poisoning. The KSHB 41 I-Team has been following this story closely.

Cooper took half of what he thought was a Percocet pill. He and three friends shared two blue pills that turned out be fake.

Cooper's mother, Libby Davis, said the fake pills came from a dealer on Snapchat.

"Gone are the days where kids can safely experiment with drugs," Davis said. "There is no such thing as safe experimentation anymore."

Davis is working with U.S. Senator Roger Marshall (R-Kansas) to pass the Cooper Davis Act. There is not companion bill in the U.S. House yet.

The I-Team asked the senator about enforcement.

"I hope we don't have to. I hope that they'll be proactive, so basically as long as they are cooperating, as long as they're doing everything in their power to communicate, then that would be great," Marshall said. "If not, maybe there will be fines. Maybe something beyond that."

The bill says social media companies would also need to save information. The information could be evidence in law enforcement investigations.

Davis told the I-Team she doesn't think social media companies are doing enough right now.

"I think we need someone to provide more oversight," she said. "I think we should be able to audit social media companies and find out if their algorithms for detecting these sorts of things are working appropriately and also the next step, that they are being reported."

Davis said she first met with Marshall's team in May. She hopes the bill will get enough support to become a law.

"I hope that other senators and then the house will come around this and recognize that it could happen to one of their family members if we don't get a handle on it real quickly," Davis said.

For Davis, having her son's name on federal legislation honors him and helps her know something good can come out of tragedy.

"I'm certain it's going to help save lives," she said. "Knowing those good things will come from this helps us believe that Cooper's death is not in vain."

Marshall's team said the bill could be taken up for a vote after the November elections.

The I-Team contacted several social media companies including Snapchat, TikTok and Facebook about the bill.

Meta, the parent company of Facebook and Instagram, wouldn't comment directly about the bill, but referred us to the company's general approach.

A spokesperson told us "content that attempts to buy, sell or trade drugs is not allowed."

The spokesperson also said the companies "routinely respond to valid law enforcement requests for information, including those related to activity like illegal drug sales."