Feb. 1, 2024, WASHINGTON – International Justice Mission (IJM) supports the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing yesterday with the CEOs of Meta, X, TikTok, Discord and Snap on the subject of online sexual exploitation of children (OSEC). This fast-growing, global crisis remains underreported and largely undetected across digital platforms used by the general public daily. In 2022 alone, nearly half a million Filipino children, or roughly 1 in 100 children, were trafficked to produce child sexual abuse material (CSAM).
“Online child sexual exploitation is a crisis in America,” said Sen. Durbin (D-IL). “In 2013, the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, known as NCMEC, received approximately 1,380 cybertips per day. By 2023, just 10 years later, the number of cybertips has risen to 100,000 reports a day.”
Legislative action by Congress is immediately needed to incentivize the U.S. technology companies to do more to address child sexual abuse online because the status quo — individual companies making internal policy decisions on if or how they address child sexual abuse on their platforms and apps — is ineffective.
“This stand against online child sexual exploitation is bipartisan and absolutely necessary,” said Sen. Durbin (D-IL). “Let this hearing be a call to action that we need to get kids online safety legislation to the President's desk.”
“All of us, every one of us, is ready to work with you and our democratic colleagues on this committee to prove to the American people,” said Sen. Graham (R-SC). “While Washington is certainly broken, there's a ray of hope, and it is here.”
Online sexual exploitation is a global crime, and the concentration of global technology companies headquartered in United States gives outsized impact to U.S. industry practices and public policy in combatting this horrific crime.
In 2022, nearly 90 percent of all CyberTipline reports were linked to potential victims and offenders outside the U.S. and referred to law enforcement agencies in more than 140 countries. From IJM’s experience in training international law enforcement partners on CyberTipline investigations, it is clear that updates are desperately needed to the existing reporting framework. IJM strongly supports enhanced reporting requirements that will improve consistency, quality and timeliness in reports of suspected OSEC sent from online service providers to the CyberTipline. These critical report enhancements are all proposed in the EARN IT Act (S.1207 / H.R.2732), STOP CSAM Act (S.1199), and REPORT Act (S.474/H.R.5082).
IJM urges Congress to act swiftly to pass legislation to protect kids online. This includes incentivizing the U.S. technology sector to do more to detect, report and remove CSAM from online platforms. We call on the House Judiciary Committee to markup the REPORT Act and Project Safe Childhood Act, which both passed the Senate unanimously in 2023. IJM also strongly urges Senate leadership to schedule a floor vote for the EARN IT Act, a bipartisan bill that has now unanimously passed the Senate Judiciary Committee in the 116th, 117th, and 118th Congresses.
“Washington has held hearing after hearing on these issues, but little has happened in the way of meaningful reform,” said Nate King, IJM’s Director of Congressional Affairs. “We must urgently enact legislation that motivates technology companies to do more to disrupt child exploitation on their platforms.”
IJM has published multiple external and internal articles on the topic, and we welcome conversations with our subject matter experts and survivors.
- Opinion | Congress must force tech companies to act on child sex abuse (Washington Post)
- Survivors of violence need the U.S. to address online sexual exploitation to keep children safe (IJM.org)
- Four Ways the EARN IT Act Protects Kids Online (IJM.org)
- Laws are coming. Smart companies won’t need them. (The Hill)
- Congress can disrupt the spread of online child sexual abuse (The Hill)
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 at: IJM.org.