U.S. Congressman Anthony Gonzalez’s (R-OH) END Child Exploitation Act passed the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee today. The legislation takes steps to address policy flaws in the fight against online child exploitation by extending the period of time that technology companies are required to preserve information about child sexual abuse images they report to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC).
“The unfortunate truth is that online child exploitation is effecting every Congressional district and state across the country, and stay-at-home orders as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic have made the problem worse,” said Congressman Gonzalez. “We must take action to address this problem, and ensuring our law enforcement agencies have the tools and resources they need is an important first step. I thank my colleague Senator Blackburn for her work on this issue and the Senate Judiciary Committee’s support for moving this legislation forward. I am committed to working with my colleagues in the House to advance the END Child Exploitation Act and make this legislation law.”
The END Child Exploitation Act was introduced by Reps. Gonzalez, Annie Kuster (D-NH), Guy Reschenthaler (R-PA), and Lucy McBath (D-GA) alongside Senators Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), and Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV) in December 2019 following the release of a New York Times investigative report highlighting disturbing growth in online child exploitation across the country. The report found that technology companies, including Google and Facebook, reported more than 69 million images and videos depicting abuse in 2019. Currently, these companies are required to retain information on these images for 90 days after reporting the material to NCMEC, however, this time is often not enough for habitually under-resourced law enforcement to conduct the necessary investigative process. The END Child Exploitation Act doubles this time frame to 180 days and ensures these companies are legally able to retain the material longer if needed to prevent the proliferation or spread of child exploitation material.
Learn more about the END Child Exploitation Act here.