By Greg Mellen
Photo by August de Richelieu
In 2022, the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children received 32 million CyberTipline reports of potentially abusive material online. This is a 329 percent increase in the last five years, according to a report on emerging trends by Thorn: Digital Defenders of Children, a group fighting human trafficking and sexual exploitation of children.
As the flood of reports of online Child Sexual Abuse Materials, or CSAM, continues to grow seemingly unabated, Congress is taking action to protect children by holding service providers and technology companies more accountable.
The Senate passed a bill in December that revised legislation to strengthen requirements to report suspected cases of online sexual exploitation and abuse of children. These include reporting cases where exploitation is planned or may be imminent.
The act also lengthens to a year the time platforms must preserve crucial evidence so law enforcement has adequate time to investigate and prosecute perpetrators. Currently, providers are only required to maintain data for 90 days. In addition, the financial penalties for failure to report have been increased.
The bill has moved onto the House of Representatives, which is working on a similar bill.