March 03, 2020

In Response to Alarming Growth of Online Child Sexual Abuse Imagery, Senator Hassan Leads Bipartisan, Bicameral Letter Urging Review of Federal Efforts to Crack Down on These Heinous Crimes

Senator Hassan’s Letter Follows Bipartisan Bill She Cosponsored to Help Crack Down on These Crimes

 

WASHINGTON – In response to the alarming growth of child sexual abuse materials available online, Senator Maggie Hassan (D-NH) today led a bipartisan, bicameral group of her colleagues in sending a letter to the Government Accountability Office (GAO) urging a review of the federal government’s efforts to crack down on these heinous crimes. This bipartisan letter follows reporting from The New York Times, which found that technology companies reported 69 million online photos and videos showing the sexual abuse of children in 2019 alone, more than tripling the amount of content reported from 2017. The letter was also signed by Senator Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) and Representatives Annie Kuster (D-NH) and Anthony Gonzalez (R-OH).

 

“The scale, severity, and complexity of this problem creates an urgent need for our government to review current efforts and increase our collective response to keep our kids safe,” the members wrote. “In New Hampshire, in Tennessee, and in Ohio, our state law enforcement agencies have shared with us the significant challenges that they face in managing both the volume of child sexual abuse material and in dealing with the various policies of electronic communication services and technology companies during investigations.”

 

The members wrote to the GAO requesting a review of the federal government’s efforts to address child sexual abuse material online, including how the federal government is tracking the scope of child sexual abuse materials and what type of information sharing is occurring between the federal government and the private sector to counter these online images.

 

Senator Blackburn and Representative Gonzalez introduced bipartisan legislation, cosponsored by Senator Hassan and Representative Kuster, to require that technology platforms like Facebook and Google preserve evidence for reports of online child exploitation for 180 days – doubling the current period of 90 days – in order to give law enforcement more time to go after these serious crimes.

 

Additionally, last year, the President signed into law bipartisan legislation cosponsored by Senator Hassan to fund Children’s Advocacy Centers, which support victims of child abuse and help law enforcement hold perpetrators accountable. Senator Hassan has also worked to include measures in the reauthorization of the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act, which passed out of the HELP Committee last December, to ensure that family members caring for children who have been exposed to substance misuse or other trauma are eligible for necessary child support services. The reauthorization of the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act also contains additional Hassan-backed measures from the Jenna Quinn Act that Senator Hassan introduced with Republican Senator John Cornyn (R-TX), which will fund grants to professionals who provide specialized care for children who have experienced sexual abuse, and especially ensures that children who experience disabilities receive necessary supports.

 

To read the letter sent by Senators Hassan and Blackburn and Representatives Kuster and Gonzalez, click here.

 

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