Today the PROTECT Our Children Act, bipartisan legislation introduced by U.S. Senator John Cornyn (R-TX), passed the U.S. House of Representatives. This legislation, which passed the Senate in June, reauthorizes the Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) Task Force Program, a national network of 61 coordinated task forces representing 3,500 federal, state, and local law enforcement and prosecutorial agencies that combat child exploitation across the country. U.S. Senators Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Dean Heller (R-NV), and Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) were original cosponsors of the legislation.
“As Attorney General of Texas, I saw firsthand how children can be exploited over the internet and what resources are needed to stop these despicable predators. Preventing cyber-crimes like online child exploitation is an increasingly tough task, which is why the ICAC Task Force Program and the support it gives to our law enforcement agencies to combat this heinous crime is invaluable,” Sen. Cornyn said. “I’m proud to see my colleagues in both Chambers recognize the importance of reauthorizing this program, and I will work to see that the Senate clears this legislation for the President’s signature.”
The PROTECT Our Children Act, originally passed in 2008, authorized the ICAC Task Force Program, a coordinated group of task forces representing 3,500 federal, state, and local law enforcement and prosecutorial agencies engaged in reactive and proactive investigations across the country. This legislation built upon work Senator Cornyn began as Texas Attorney General, when he created the Texas Internet Bureau to fight internet crimes like child pornography.
The ICAC Task Force Program helps local and state law enforcement respond to technology-facilitated child sexual exploitation and internet crimes against children, and offers guidance on victim support, forensic investigative components, training and technical assistance, and prevention and community education.
Earlier this year, Senator Cornyn met with local leaders and law enforcement officers working with two of the three ICACs in Texas, the Dallas ICAC Task Force and the Houston Metro ICAC Task Force, to discuss their successes and challenges to preventing online exploitation of children in the state.
Organizations who support the PROTECT Our Children Act include the National Association to Protect Children (PROTECT), the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, RAINN (Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network), the National Children’s Alliance, Rights4Girls, Shared Hope, the Fraternal Order of Police, the National Association of Police Organizations, the Sergeants Benevolent Association, the Major County Sheriffs of America, the Association of State Criminal Investigative Agencies, the National Sheriffs Association, the Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association, the National District Attorneys Association, the National Criminal Justice Association, and the Major City Chiefs Police Association.
Senator John Cornyn, a Republican from Texas, is a member of the Senate Finance, Intelligence, and Judiciary Committees.