Congress Commits to Protecting Children Online
With the explosion of child sexual abuse images and videos on the internet and the continual emergence of new threats against children, we have reached an inflection point in our efforts to combat online child sexual exploitation. Michelle DeLaune, president and CEO of the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children (NCMEC), will share proposed legislative solutions with the Senate Judiciary Committee today.
NCMEC operates the CyberTipline, the nation's centralized reporting system for the online exploitation of children. Since its inception, NCMEC has received more than 153 million reports, with a staggering average of 80,000 reports a day.
Congress has recognized the importance of requiring tech companies to report violations of federal child pornography laws on their platforms. The law does not, however, require companies to submit reports with sufficient information regarding the incident, leaving children unprotected and subjecting survivors to repeated revictimization.
Based on NCMEC’s decades of experience, we have identified 5 core proposals that could be implemented through federal legislation:
- Improve uniformity and consistency in reporting to the CyberTipline, including encouraging tech companies to submit timely reports that include geographic information, child victim information, and offender information
- Enable minors to report copies of self-produced imagery to NCMEC
- Formalize a process to help survivors remove imagery depicting their abuse
- Enable minors to have legal recourse against those who knowingly facilitate their victimization
- Promote NCMEC’s use of sophisticated technology to enhance our efforts to combat child sex exploitation
And we face new challenges in light of the recent announcement by several large social media platforms that they will implement end-to-end encryption by default on user accounts. While end-to-end encryption is used to protect personal data in a range of online transactions, when end-to-end encryption is adopted by default on social media platforms and chat applications without meaningful child safety measures being adopted, severe child safety risks arise. NCMEC anticipates the number of reports of suspected child sexual abuse from the larger reporting companies will plummet by close to 80%.
“There are serious challenges ahead, but we’re confident that with the strong leadership of the Senate Judiciary Committee we’ll make strides toward better protecting our children online,” DeLaune said. “NCMEC stands ready to support Congress as we move forward to address our current challenges together and to ensure that child safety online is prioritized.”
To read Michelle DeLaune’s testimony and proposed solutions, please click here.