Cornyn, Feinstein Bill to Modernize CyberTipline Heads to President’s Desk
Senators John Cornyn (R-TX) and Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) released the following statements after their legislation, the CyberTipline Modernization Act, passed the U.S. House of Representatives:
“The CyberTipline is often the first place witnesses and victims of child online exploitation turn for help,” Sen. Cornyn said. “This critical service forwards millions of reports to law enforcement for potential investigation, and this legislation will ensure the CyberTipline can handle the evolving threats targeted at children. I look forward to the President signing it into law so NCMEC can continue its work to protect our most vulnerable.”
“Child abduction and abuse are among the most heinous crimes, and the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children’s tipline is critical in the fight to protect children. Last year alone the tipline received more than 10 million reports of potential exploitation. Our legislation improves the tipline to ensure it’s better equipped to coordinate with law enforcement and respond to the widespread use of the internet by child predators,” said Sen. Feinstein.
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. Senators Cornyn and Feinstein 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.