This year, we’ve been facing one of the biggest challenges in our 35-year history, and I want to thank you for standing by our side as we work to protect our country’s most valuable resource – our kids. In response to growing concerns about online data security, many technology companies are adopting a strategy called end-to-end encryption that could have dire consequences for millions of children being sexually abused and having horrific images of their abuse shared online.
We’ve received more than 61 million reports since 1998 to our CyberTipline of suspected child sexual abuse material, online enticement, child sex trafficking, child sexual molestation and other crimes, including more than 16.9 million reports this year alone. With end-to-end encryption, we estimate more than half of these reports would simply vanish, never making it into the hands of law enforcement.
End-to-end encryption would provide data security but, in the process, also prevent technology companies or any third party from detecting sexual abuse of children occurring on their platforms. Access to information about these crimes through our CyberTipline is often the only way for law enforcement to know they’re happening and rescue the children.
This passionate privacy debate has awakened the nation to what we see at NCMEC everyday: an explosion in child sexual exploitation on the internet. The Justice Department held a summit this year on the issue, new laws are being debated and survivors have added their voices.
Just as it has developed innovative ways to help sexually exploited and missing children, we’re calling on the technology industry to implement solutions that enhance consumer privacy while prioritizing child safety.
Every day, I attend meetings with my staff to discuss issues like end-to-end encryption and its impact on our children’s safety. I’m grateful for your support because it allows us to speak up for children and to fight to make sure our country is a safer place for them to learn, play and grow.
John F. Clark
President and CEO
National Center for Missing & Exploited Children