Sen. Ossoff’s bipartisan bill with Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) will strengthen the nation’s centralized reporting system for the online exploitation of children
Bipartisan bill would also toughen penalties on websites and social media companies that fail to report crimes against children
Washington, D.C. — U.S. Senator Jon Ossoff’s bipartisan bill to protect children from online sexual abuse and exploitation has passed the U.S. Senate.
Sens. Ossoff and Marsha Blackburn (R-TN)’s bipartisan REPORT Act would strengthen the national tipline run by the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) to collect reports of online exploitation and would require evidence to be preserved for a longer period, giving law enforcement more time to investigate and prosecute crimes.
“My bipartisan bill will ensure tech companies are held accountable to report and remove child sex abuse material and to strengthen protection for kids online,” Sen. Ossoff said. “At a time of such division in Congress, we brought Republicans and Democrats together to pass this urgent legislation to protect kids on the internet.”
“In today’s technological age, children have become increasingly vulnerable to online sexual exploitation,” said Senator Blackburn. “There is an urgent need to address loopholes in reporting these crimes and to equip the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children and law enforcement with the resources they need to adequately respond. I thank Senator Ossoff for his bipartisan partnership in this effort, and I look forward to the REPORT Act’s swift passage out of the House and to the President’s desk.”
The bill would also require websites and social media platforms to report crimes involving Federal trafficking and enticement of children, which they are not currently required to do. The legislation would also increase fines for companies that knowingly and willfully fail to report child sex abuse material on their site.
According to NCMEC, the tipline received over 32 million reports last year.
“The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) is proud to celebrate Senate passage of the Revising Existing Procedures on Reporting via Technology (REPORT) Act today. We thank Senator Blackburn and Senator Ossoff for their continued leadership on online child safety issues. The passage of the REPORT Act is a critical step in the right direction as we continue to combat the rise of online child sexual exploitation,” NCMEC President & CEO Michelle DeLaune said. “NCMEC applauds the hard work by Senator Blackburn, Senator Ossoff, and all the Senate co-sponsors to pass the REPORT Act. We look forward to continuing our work with Senator Blackburn and Senator Ossoff to ensure the safety of children online, and we encourage House Leadership to join the fight and bring the REPORT Act to the floor for a vote. NCMEC is eager to see this timely legislation become law because every child deserves a safe childhood.”
Sen. Ossoff has heard from child welfare experts and local leaders across the state about this growing concern, who have noted that online child sexual abuse continues to run rampant but remains underreported in Georgia.
Earlier this month in a U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee hearing, Sen. Ossoff pressed FBI Director Christopher Wray to address sextortion schemes targeting children online amidst a reported 700% increase in their frequency since 2021 in Georgia.
In September, Sens. Ossoff and Blackburn launched an inquiry with Attorney General Merrick Garland about the FBI’s capacity to investigate and respond to crimes involving child sexual abuse and exploitation, highlighting a June 2023 report to Congress in which the DOJ cited an international threat assessment demonstrating that “the growth in online child sexual exploitation is outpacing our ability to respond.”
Last year, Sen. Ossoff and Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) introduced a bipartisan bill to strengthen Federal protections against the sexual abuse of children. The bill passed the Senate earlier this year, and NCMEC urged lawmakers to pass it into law this year.
# # #