Sens. Ossoff’s bipartisan bill with Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) to strengthen nation’s centralized reporting system for the online exploitation of children passes Senate Judiciary Committee
Bipartisan bill would also toughen penalties on websites and social media companies that fail to report crimes against children
Washington, D.C. — The U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee today passed U.S. Senator Jon Ossoff’s bipartisan bill to protect children from online sexual abuse and exploitation.
As Chairman and Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on Human Rights, Sens. Ossoff and Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) introduced the bipartisan REPORT Act to combat the rise in child sexual abuse material online. Today, the bipartisan legislation was advanced through the Senate Judiciary Committee, a key step in the legislation becoming law.
“This bipartisan legislation — bringing Republicans and Democrats together at a time of such division in the Congress — to ensure that tech companies are held accountable to report and remove child sex abuse material and to strengthen protection for kids online is timely and it is essential,” Sen. Ossoff said during the hearing. “I thank you, Mr. Chairman, and the Ranking Member, for your cooperation and support in bringing this forward today. I urge the whole Committee and the Senate, on a bipartisan basis, to advance this urgent legislation to protect kids on the internet.”
The bipartisan bill would strengthen the National Tipline run by the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) to report online exploitation and would preserve evidence for a longer period, giving law enforcement more time to investigate and prosecute crimes. According to NCMEC, the tipline received over 32 million reports last year.
The bill would 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.
Sen. Ossoff and Blackburn’s bipartisan bill would instill new measures to help address the evolving challenges around identifying online child sexual exploitation, including by:
- Requiring websites and social media platforms to report imminent child sexual abuse violations — not just violations that have already occurred
- Requiring websites and social media platforms to report violations of crimes involving federal trafficking (e.g., selling ads for children) and enticement
- Increasing the fine (up to $850,000) for websites and social media platforms that knowingly and willfully fail to report child sexual abuse material
- Increasing the time that websites and social media platforms are required to preserve evidence for reports of online child exploitation that they submit to the CyberTipline, giving law enforcement more time to investigate and prosecute.
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 remain underreported in Georgia.
In July of 2022, FBI Atlanta reported that Georgia has seen an increase in sextortion cases where adults are posing as young girls online to solicit sexual images from minors. These online predators are then extorting their victims for money.
Sen. Ossoff continues working to protect Georgia’s children. Earlier this year, Sen. Ossoff and Sen. Blackburn launched a bipartisan inquiry into the alleged abuse and neglect of children in Georgia’s foster care system.
Last year, Sen. Ossoff and Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) introduced a bipartisan bill tostrengthen 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.
Click here to read the bipartisan Revising Existing Procedures on Reporting via Technology (REPORT) Act.