Washington, D.C. — U.S. Senators Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.), Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.), Maggie Hassan (D—N.H.), and Josh Hawley (R—Mo.) along with Representatives Anthony Gonzalez (OH-16), Annie Kuster (NH-02), Guy Reschenthaler (PA-14) and Lucy McBath (GA-06) reintroduced the END Child Exploitation Act legislation designed to extend the period of time that technology companies are required to preserve information about child sexual abuse images they report to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC).
“Children are increasingly living their lives behind screens, and the jarring reality is this leaves more innocent kids at risk of online exploitation,” said Senator Blackburn. “We need to give law enforcement the tools to investigate these crimes and collect the evidence needed to hunt down online predators.”
“Since my time as Nevada’s Attorney General, I have worked to strengthen laws to protect survivors of child trafficking,” said Senator Cortez Masto. “The legislation we’re introducing today will provide our law enforcement with the authority they need to better investigate online exploitation and hold perpetrators accountable. I’ll always stand up for Nevada’s children, and I look forward to continuing my work with our law enforcement community to protect children from traffickers.”
“Criminals who abuse and exploit children must be held accountable to the fullest extent of the law, and this bill will help give law enforcement additional time to investigate these crimes,” said Senator Hassan. “Especially given that reports of child abuse online have gone up during the pandemic, we must move forward with this bipartisan bill to help crack down on sex trafficking and protect children.”
"This bill will help law enforcement and tech companies effectively combat the scourge of child exploitation content online,” said Senator Hawley. “In a season when millions of Americans are reliant on the internet for so many of their daily needs, safeguards like this one could not be more timely."
“The spread of child sexual abuse material online is heinous and cannot be tolerated in our society,” Rep. Gonzalez said. “As technology continues to advance, law enforcement needs the investigative tools to adequately respond. The END Child Exploitation Act will aid law enforcement by providing them more time to work with data being gathered by technology companies. I thank my colleagues for joining me in introducing this bill and addressing this issue that effects every single community in our country. We must do more to prevent the spread of this material online, and the END Child Exploitation Act is a simple legislative fix that can help keep our communities safe.”
“Ensuring the safety and wellbeing of children in New Hampshire and across the country is one of my top priorities, and we must do more to safeguard them from exploitation online,” said Rep. Kuster. “I am proud to help reintroduce this commonsense, bipartisan legislation to help law enforcement and technology companies respond to child sexual abuse images, hold perpetrators accountable, and protect Granite State children and communities.”
“The COVID-19 pandemic has increasingly intertwined our daily lives with technology, making it more important than ever before to protect children from the growing prevalence of online child exploitation in our nation,” said Rep. Reschenthaler. “The END Child Exploitation Act will provide law enforcement more time to identify predators and hold them accountable for their heinous crimes. I am proud to join with Representatives Gonzalez, Kuster, and McBath and Senators Blackburn and Cortez Masto to stop these perpetrators, protect our nation’s children, and keep our communities safe.”
“As lawmakers, we must do more to protect our children and provide parents and law enforcement the necessary tools to stop child abuse and exploitation," said Rep. McBath. "Online risks are a dangerous and evolving threat to our children, which is why I am honored to join my colleagues on this important bill to provide more resources to keep kids safe, hold perpetrators accountable, and protect families in Georgia and across the United States.”
“The National Center for Missing & Exploited Children (NCMEC) commends Representatives Gonzalez, Kuster, Reschenthaler, and McBath for introducing the Eliminate Network Distribution of Child Exploitation Act. This Act will expand the amount of time electronic service providers must retain material relating to child sexual exploitation reports submitted to NCMEC’s CyberTipline, allowing more time for NCMEC to analyze, and law enforcement to investigate, these reports. The Act also provides technology companies with the enhanced ability to develop more sophisticated tools to respond to and reduce this terrible crime.
Since 1998, NCMEC’s CyberTipline has received over 84 million reports relating to online child sexual abuse content from members of the public and technology companies, including more than 21 million reports just last year. We support this legislation to help enable more time for the efficient and effective review and investigation of CyberTipline reports. NCMEC commends the sponsors of this Act for introducing this bill and for their dedication to the safety of our nation’s children.”
"There are certain crimes that strike at the core of who we are as a society. Online sexual exploitation of children is one of the most repulsive criminal trends that plague our country," said Patrick Yoes, National President of the Fraternal Order of Police. "The bill introduced by Representative Gonzalez will double the amount of time that the information sent to the CyberTipline is preserved for investigatory purposes, allowing more time for law enforcement to conduct these time-consuming investigations and to help children who are victimized and exploited online."
The END Child Exploitation Act was first introduced in December 2019 following the release of a New York Times investigative report highlighting disturbing growth in online child exploitation across the country. The report found that technology companies reported more than 69 million images and videos depicting abuse in 2019. Currently, these companies are required to retain information on these images for 90 days after reporting the material to NCMEC, however, this time is often not enough for habitually under-resourced law enforcement to conduct the necessary investigative process. The END Child Exploitation Act doubles this time frame to 180 days and ensures these companies are legally able to retain the material longer if needed to prevent the proliferation or spread of child exploitation material.