IJM Testifies on Exploitation of Children Before House Judiciary Committee shield arrow-simple-alt-top arrow-simple-alt-left arrow-simple-alt-right arrow-simple-alt-bottom facebook instagram linkedin medium pinterest rss search-alt twitter video-play arrow-long-right arrow-long-left arrow-long-top arrow-long-bottom arrow-simple-right arrow-simple-left arrow-simple-bottom readio arrow-simple-top speaker-down plus minus cloud hb pin camera globe cart rotate star edit arrow-top arrow-right arrow-left arrow-bottom check search close square speaker-up speaker-mute return play pause love

IJM Testifies on Exploitation of Children Before House Judiciary Committee

Sept. 13, 2023, WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, IJM’s Vanessa Bautista and John Tanagho testified before the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime and Federal Government Surveillance. The hearing, “Children are Not for Sale: Examining the Threat of Exploitation of Children in the U.S. and Abroad,” is part of a larger effort by Congress to investigate and address abusive threats against children around the world.

Bautista, a Global Survivor Network leader and advocate, and Tanagho, Executive Director of IJM’s Center to End Online Exploitation of Children, testified at the invitation of Chairman Andy Biggs (R-AZ-5) and Ranking Member Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX-18). Bautista and Tanagho called on Congress to compel online service providers to act proactively against child exploitation on their platforms.

“Offenders in the U.S. should not be able to log online in the privacy of their own homes, and with a simple click of their mouse, violate the privacy and dignity of little children – as far as like the Philippines,” said Bautista. “We need to create and enforce strong regulations so that children are protected.”

“The sheer scale of child sexual abuse material necessitates technological prevention,” said Tanagho. “Critical safeguards should be deployed in video-chat and messaging apps to disrupt the production of CSAM.”

The hearing comes as multiple anti-exploitation bills are percolating in Congress, including the EARN IT Act, REPORT Act, STOP CSAM Act and Project Safe Childhood Act. Tanagho and Bautista urged Congress to take up anti-child exploitation legislation, especially bills like the EARN IT Act that would spur action from social media companies and update critical response infrastructure.

“Without laws, child exploitation online is a global crisis spiraling out of control,” said Tanagho. “That’s why IJM supports the EARN IT Act – to change the incentives to ensure tech companies do everything in their power to prevent child exploitation on their platforms.”

Bautista applauded the legislation for its “provision requiring survivors to serve on the National Commission on Online Child Sexual Exploitation.” She strongly recommended that “this provision be included in the final version of the EARN IT Act and that people with lived experience of this crime be included on this commission.”

The EARN IT Act will also enhance suspected abuse reports and extend data preservation requirements from tech companies to the CyberTipline operated by the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. 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.

The timely opportunity for Bautista and Tanagho to serve as witnesses during today’s hearing occurs concurrently with the release of IJM’s new Scale of Harm study, which reports that 500,000 Filipino children – or 1 in 100 – are estimated to be victims of online sexual exploitation. Additionally, IJM will host its 2023 Advocacy Summit this fall, during which supporters will gather in Washington, D.C., to lobby in favor of the EARN IT Act.

Other witnesses in the hearing included John Pizzuro, Raven CEO and former Commander of the New Jersey Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) Task Force; Anne Basham, Founder and Chairwoman of the Interparliamentary Taskforce on Human Trafficking; Jose Alfaro, Board of Directors, Human Trafficking Legal Center; Frank Russo, Director & Associate General Counsel, Center for Combatting Human Trafficking, American Conservative Union; and Lori Cohen, Chief Executive Officer for PACT, Protect All Children from Trafficking.

Watch the full hearing and read testimony from Vanessa Bautista, testimony from John Tanagho, and the full testimony (link forthcoming).

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.

You might also be interested in…

see more

Media Contact

We're here to answer your questions. Please fill out the form below and someone from our team will follow up with you soon.

More Information

Petra Kooman

Director of Marketing and Public Relations
519.679.5030 x.229

Make an Impact

Your skills, talents, and ideas are a force for change. From birthday parties to polar dips, your fundraising campaign can stop the violence.

Learn More

Thank you for signing up to learn more about starting a fundraiser. We will be in touch soon!

In the meantime, please take a look at our free guide: 25 Tips for the Novice Fundraiser.

Need Help?

Need more information?
We're here to help.
Contact us at events@ijm.ca