Washington, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.) joined Senators Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.), and Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.), and Representatives Anthony Gonzalez (Ohio-16), Annie Kuster (N.H.-02), Guy Reschenthaler (Pa.-14), and Lucy McBath (Ga.-06) in reintroducing the END Child Exploitation Act, legislation designed to extend 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).
“Since my time as Nevada’s Attorney General, I have worked to strengthen laws to protect survivors of child trafficking,” said Senator Cortez Masto. “The legislation we’re introducing today will provide our law enforcement with the authority they need to better investigate online exploitation and hold perpetrators accountable. I’ll always stand up for Nevada’s children, and I look forward to continuing my work with our law enforcement community to protect children from traffickers.”
“Children are increasingly living their lives behind screens, and the jarring reality is this leaves more innocent kids at risk of online exploitation,” said Senator Blackburn. “We need to give law enforcement the tools to investigate these crimes and collect the evidence needed to hunt down online predators.”
“The spread of child sexual abuse material online is heinous and cannot be tolerated in our society,” said Representative Gonzalez. “As technology continues to advance, law enforcement needs the investigative tools to adequately respond. The END Child Exploitation Act will aid law enforcement by providing them more time to work with data being gathered by technology companies. I thank my colleagues for joining me in introducing this bill and addressing this issue that effects every single community in our country. We must do more to prevent the spread of this material online, and the END Child Exploitation Act is a simple legislative fix that can help keep our communities safe.”
“Ensuring the safety and wellbeing of children in New Hampshire and across the country is one of my top priorities, and we must do more to safeguard them from exploitation online,” said Representative Kuster. “I am proud to help reintroduce this commonsense, bipartisan legislation to help law enforcement and technology companies respond to child sexual abuse images, hold perpetrators accountable, and protect Granite State children and communities.”
“The COVID-19 pandemic has increasingly intertwined our daily lives with technology, making it more important than ever before to protect children from the growing prevalence of online child exploitation in our nation,” said Representative Reschenthaler. “The END ChildExploitation Act will provide law enforcement more time to identify predators and hold them accountable for their heinous crimes. I am proud to join with Representatives Gonzalez, Kuster, and McBath and Senators Blackburn and Cortez Masto to stop these perpetrators, protect our nation’s children, and keep our communities safe.”
“As lawmakers, we must do more to protect our children and provide parents and law enforcement the necessary tools to stop child abuse and exploitation,” said Representative McBath. “Online risks are a dangerous and evolving threat to our children, which is why I am honored to join my colleagues on this important bill to provide more resources to keep kids safe, hold perpetrators accountable, and protect families in Georgia and across the United States.”
The END Child Exploitation Act was first introduced 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 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 the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children (NCMEC). However, this timeframe is often not enough for 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 of child exploitation material.
Throughout her career, Senator Cortez Masto has worked closely with the law enforcement community to increase resources needed to identify and stop child trafficking and exploitation. Last Congress, the Senator introduced the Interdiction for the Protection of Child Victims of Exploitation and Human Trafficking Act, bipartisan legislation to establish a federal pilot program to train federal, state, tribal, and local law enforcement officers to recognize and rescue at-risk and exploited children. She also introduced the bipartisan FIND Trafficking Act, which was recently signed into law and requires the Government Accountability Office to study how virtual currencies and online marketplaces are used to facilitate sex trafficking and make recommendations on how to fight, detect and deter these illegal activities.