For the first time ever, Congress is actively considering five pieces of legislation that could move mountains for survivors of child sexual abuse material (CSAM). Each bill addresses different aspects of the crime of online child sexual exploitation, and together these bills will strengthen protections and remedies for survivors, improve reporting to NCMEC’s CyberTipline and increase law enforcement’s ability to investigate these crimes.
First, we’ll give you a little background on the problem of CSAM, and then you’ll hear from real survivors about why they support these legislative solutions. Some of the survivors’ names have been changed to protect their privacy.
For years now, the volume of child sexual abuse images and videos that offenders distribute and share online has been exploding. The creation of CSAM is certainly not a new crime. Before the internet, these illegal images and videos were traded in person or through the mail as paper photographs or videotapes.
But things have changed dramatically with the proliferation of technology like smartphones with cameras, cheaper access to greater amounts of digital storage and more ways for users to connect one-on-one online. Let’s just look at the past decade. In 2012, NCMEC received just under half a million reports of suspected child sexual exploitation to our CyberTipline. Most of these reports related to CSAM. In 2022, that number ballooned to 32 million reports. So far this year, NCMEC has received over 30 million reports.
Before we go any further, let’s be clear about the material we’re talking about when we talk about CSAM. These are crime scene photos and videos documenting the sexual abuse and assault of children. And once they’re put online, they never go away, as offenders continue to reshare the images over and over again.
We all play a role in working to disrupt the trading of these images online and support survivors, including you – the public – and our elected representatives on Capitol Hill.
While the problem may feel insurmountable, there are viable legislative solutions on the table right now. NCMEC supports these five child protection bills currently under consideration:
These proposed bills work as a package to curtail the online distribution of this illegal content, support survivors and strengthen the laws to help prosecute offenders. Survivors of these crimes are speaking out in support of these pieces of legislation. To read a more thorough breakdown of what each specific bill addresses, click on the links above.