Spanberger, Schatz, Murkowski, Wagner to DoD: Fight online child sexual exploitation

Abigail SpanbergerReps. Abigail Spanberger (D-VA-07) and Anne Wagner (R-MO-02) and Sens. Brian Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii) and Lisa Murkowsi (R-Alaska) are calling on Defense Secretary Mark Esper to provide updates on how the Defense Department is preventing and combating child sexual exploitation.

Their call comes eight months after Spanberger’s legislation to fight online child exploitation on the DoD’s network was signed into law by the President as Section 550D of the National Defense Authorization Act of 2020

“It is imperative that DoD fully implement Section 550D and begin the necessary work of ending child sexual exploitation,” said Spanberger and her colleagues. “The timely implementation of these provisions is critical to ensure that all available federal government resources are being delivered to protect children and combat the perpetuation and sharing of inappropriate content.”

Last year, close to 70 million online images and videos of child sexual abuse material were reported to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children’s CyberTipline. And in 2018, the DoD’s network was ranked 19th out of 2,891 networks nationwide by the National Criminal Justice Training Center when it came to peer-to-peer file trading of child pornography. Before the Section 550D of the NDAA became law, DoD lacked the training and law enforcement tools for the DoD to take on child sexual exploitation.

Spanberger’s End National Defense (END) Network Abuse Act directs DoD to train military investigators on the use of technologies, tools, and techniques, including digital forensics, to enhance their ability to detect and combat child sexual exploitation. Specifically, the bill would upgrade the training and technical capacity of military criminal investigative organizations to confront the misuse of DoD computers, facilities, and equipment to access and trade child pornography.

Additionally, the NDAA requires DoD to collaborate with federal, state, local, and tribal law enforcement agencies on issues relating to child sexual exploitation, including by participating in specialized task forces and establishing cooperative agreements to facilitate co-training and collaboration.

The full letter is available here.


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