Cornyn, Feinstein Bill to Modernize CyberTipline Passes Judiciary Committee

Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) and I released the following statements after our bill, the CyberTipline Modernization Act, passed the Senate Judiciary Committee:  

The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children receives millions of reports to the CyberTipline annually, making it a critical part of their mission to protect children. However, in the twenty years since the tipline’s creation, online child exploitation has grown and morphed. This legislation will make much needed updates to ensure the CyberTipline and NCMEC can continue to prevent and stop exploitation of children online, and I hope the rest of our colleagues will join Senator Feinstein and me in this effort.

“This bill will help stop the pervasive threat of online child exploitation,” Sen. Feinstein said. “It makes sure the National CyberTipline is up to date and effective. The tipline, run by the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, is responsible for receiving reports of child exploitation and transmitting them to law enforcement. In 2017, the tipline received more than 10 million reports of child exploitation. This problem continues to get worse and we must do everything we can to stop it.”

Background: 

The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) created the CyberTipline in 1998 to help prevent and stop the sexual exploitation of children. The CyberTipline provides the general public and technology industry with the ability to report online instances of child sexual exploitation, including child pornography. Congress enacted legislation related to the CyberTipline in 2008; however, the federal statute has not been revised since. Senator Feinstein and I introduced the CyberTipline Modernization Act to provide much needed updates to the statute to better reflect the current operation of the CyberTipline.

Specifically, the CyberTipline Modernization Act will: 

  • Underscore the true purpose of the CyberTipline—to reduce the proliferation of online child sexual exploitation and prevent it from circulating online in the first place;
  • Facilitate reporting to NCMEC for imminent or planned violations and provide an opportunity for intervention before further harm to a child;
  • Address new trends of online abuse by referencing reported content as “visual depictions” to reflect that illegal content now often includes videos as well as images; 
  • Recognize the increased proliferation of child pornography across the globe; and
  • Strengthen NCMEC’s process for handling international reports to ensure that they are sent to the proper authorities in foreign countries.

The reports to the CyberTipline not only help ensure law enforcement can identify child victims and provide them with services that they need, but they also ensure those images can be removed from the internet and contribute to safer online communities for our nation’s children.

In addition, the CyberTipline allows NCMEC to engage with the Internet industry on voluntary initiatives to help reduce the proliferation of child sexual abuse images online. NCMEC uses the information submitted to the CyberTipline to create and tailor NCMEC’s safety and prevention publications that are provided to educators, parents, and the public.

In addition to strong support from NCMEC, the CyberTipline Modernization Act is supported by the National District Attorneys Association, the Internet Association, RAINN, and leaders in the tech industry.

 

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