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Advocates Ask Congress to Fight Online Child Abuse in IJM Lobby Day

Oct. 16, 2023, WASHINGTON, D.C. – International Justice Mission hosts advocates in Washington, D.C., today and tomorrow to urge policymakers to support the EARN IT Act (S.1207 / H.R.2732). The bipartisan bill incentivizes companies to create a safer online environment and help bring an end to online sexual exploitation of children (OSEC). This is a growing global crime in which children are sexually abused by traffickers who livestream the abuse to offenders around the world who pay for and direct the exploitation from their own homes.

“The existing framework in the U.S. that governs the internet is failing to protect vulnerable children,” said Nate King, IJM’s Director of Congressional Affairs. “The 118th Congress must work together to address the urgent task of protecting children online.”

During the 2023 Advocacy Summit, advocates from 30 states will meet with more than 130 congressional offices, presenting the facts about OSEC and reasons why the EARN IT Act must be enacted. This remarkable turnout is a demonstration of the legislation’s importance to Americans nationwide.

“Over the years, the Advocacy Summit has brought critical breakthroughs in the fight to end violence against women and children, modern slavery and many other justice initiatives,” said Kate Case, Head of Mobilization for IJM. “This year, we have our sights set on protecting children all over the world from online sexual exploitation.”

“The EARN IT Act imposes basic accountability on tech companies that are complicit in the sexual abuse and exploitation of children,” said Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT). “The internet is infested with millions of images of children who have been brutally assaulted and exploited, and who are haunted by a lifetime of pain after these photographs and videos are circulated online. This problem is simply too big to throw money at – tech companies must take responsibility for eliminating child sexual abuse material on their own platforms.”

The first day of the Advocacy Summit is dedicated to training and preparation for meetings with congressional offices. Experts in policy and movement building will guide participants through a day of sessions to identify personal purpose, understand the crime and learn about legislative solutions.

Since IJM’s last Advocacy Summit in 2019, OSEC has become more widespread. The need for congressional action has never been more urgent. In the recently released Scale of Harm study from International Justice Mission and the University of Nottingham Rights Lab, 1 in 100 children in the Philippines were trafficked to produce new child sexual exploitation material (CSEM) in 2022. That’s 500,000 children, in the Philippines alone. Also in 2022, the CyberTipline, operated by the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, received over 32 million reports of exploitation – a 47% increase since 2020.

With unanimous support from the Senate Judiciary Committee, the EARN IT Act awaits a vote by the full chamber in the Senate. The bill is awaiting action by the House Judiciary Committee. IJM is hopeful that the outpouring of constituent support shown through the 2023 Advocacy Summit will prompt swift movement in both houses of Congress.

About International Justice Mission
International Justice Mission partners with local authorities in 31 program offices in 16 countries to combat slavery, violence against women and children and police abuse of power. IJM’s mission is to protect people in poverty from violence by rescuing victims, bringing criminals to justice, restoring survivors to safety and strength, and helping local law enforcement build a safe future that lasts. Learn more about IJM’s public policy and advocacy work.

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