On Jan. 31, 2024, the Senate Judiciary Committee will host a full committee hearing on online child sexual exploitation, demanding answers from some of the world’s largest social media companies and their failures to protect kids online. The hearing will include testimony from tech CEOs from Discord, Meta, Snap, TikTok and X (Twitter).
This is a crucial moment in child safety. It was just a year ago that NCMEC’s President and CEO, Michelle DeLaune, testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee about the explosion of child sexual abuse images and videos on the internet and the continual emergence of new threats against children. She warned we had reached an “inflection point” in our efforts to combat online child sexual exploitation, notably the staggering increase in reports of online enticement. This includes “sextortion,” where a child is threatened or blackmailed by a person who says they will publicly share a nude or sexual image depicting the child. Sextortion is one of the most rapidly evolving online sexual exploitation crimes against children that NCMEC has ever witnessed.
In 2023, NCMEC’s CyberTipline received 36.2 million reports of suspected child sexual exploitation online. Those reports contained more than 105 million images, videos and other files. We also saw an explosion in reports of online enticement, an increase of more than 300% between 2021 – 2023.
In 2023, the CyberTipline received 186,819 reports of online enticement, up from 80,524 reports in 2022 and 44,155 reports in 2021.
The majority of tech companies have not made even minimal efforts to combat child sexual exploitation on their platforms. And even those who have engaged in voluntary initiatives, including some companies testifying today, have fallen far short of implementing solutions that significantly protect children from harm.
In order to ensure consistent and meaningful online protection of youth, it is time for legislative solutions that put the safety of children first.
There are multiple bipartisan bills that can help address the growing dangers to children online. 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.
We encourage you to read about each bill and then reach out to your members of Congress, asking for their support. You can find your House of Representatives Member here and your Senator here.