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New Bill Would Attack Child Porn

Capitol Hill
(Image credit: Architect of the Capitol)

Two legislators familiar to media execs have introduced House and Senate versions of a bill to combat online child exploitation, saying it would reverse "a decade of underfunding key enforcement and prevention efforts."

The Invest in Child Safety Act, from Rep. Anna Eshoo (D-Calif.) and Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), would provide $5 billion in "mandatory funding" to investigate online pedophiles who create and share child pornography online and to fund programs to keep children from becoming victims.

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It would create an Office to Enforce and Protect Against Child Sexual Exploitation, within the White House Executive Office of the President to coordinate efforts across federal agencies. They said that is needed after the Department of Justice declined to do such coordination and reporting as directed in a 2008 law.

They say the DOJ has cut more than $60 million from child exploitation prevention programs while trying to create encryption backdoors that could weaken online security for everyone.

“Dogged reporting put a spotlight on the failures of the executive branch and Congress to respond to disgusting crimes against children that are shared online,” Wyden said in a statement. “Our bill will finally provide agencies with enough investigators and prosecutors to confront this menace, fund the organizations who help protect at-risk kids from becoming victims, and provide aid to survivors.”

The bill would:

1. "Quadruple the number of prosecutors and agents in DOJ’s Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section from 30 FTEs to 120 FTEs;

2. "Add 100 new agents and investigators for the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Innocent Images National Initiative, Crimes Against Children Unit, Child Abduction Rapid Deployment Teams, and Child Exploitation and Human Trafficking Task Forces;

3. "Fund 65 new NCMEC analysts, engineers, and mental health counselors, as well as a major upgrade to NCMEC’s technology platform to enable the organization to more effectively evaluate and process CSAM reports from tech companies;

4. "Double funding for the state Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) Task Forces;

5. "Double funding for the National Criminal Justice Training Center, to administer crucial Internet Crimes Against Children and Missing and Exploited Children training programs;

6. "Increase funding for evidence-based programs, local governments and non-federal entities to detect, prevent and support victims of child sexual abuse, including school-based mental health services and prevention programs like the Children’s Advocacy Centers and the HHS’ Street Outreach Program;

7. "Require tech companies to increase the time that they hold evidence of CSAM, in a secure database, to enable law enforcement agencies to prosecute older cases;

8. "Establish an Office to Enforce and Protect Against Child Sexual Exploitation, within the Executive Office of the President, to direct and streamline the federal government’s efforts to prevent, investigate and prosecute the scourge of child exploitation;

9. "Require the Office to develop an enforcement and protection strategy, in coordination with HHS and GAO; and

10. "Require the Office to submit annual monitoring reports, subject to mandatory Congressional testimony to ensure timely execution."

“The technology industry is committed to working together with law enforcement to protect children online,” said Jason Oxman, president of tech association ITI. “The Invest in Child Safety Act is another welcome step to strengthen our ability to prevent and prosecute online child sexual abuse. This measure would take meaningful and focused action to address these vile criminal acts by providing additional resources for law enforcement, thereby enabling more robust response to the millions of reports of abusive material technology companies make to authorities every day.”