FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: February 7, 2007
Senators McCain (R-AZ) And Schumer (D-NY) Introduce The Safe Act Of 2007
Senators introduce bill that would strengthen current system for Internet service providers to report on-line child pornography to the Center for Missing & Exploited Children
WASHINGTON, DC -- U.S. Senators John McCain (R-AZ) and Chuck Schumer (D-NY) today introduced the Securing Adolescents From Exploitation-Online Act of 2007. The bill, to be known as the SAFE Act, is designed to clarify and enhance the current system for electronic service providers (ESPs) to report on-line child pornography, making the failure to report child pornography a federal crime.
"The fight to protect our children from exploitation has moved from the playground to the Internet, and we must update our laws to reflect this reality. The Internet is likely the greatest invention of the 21st century; however, it has allowed these children to be victimized again and again as these images are widely distributed via the Internet," McCain said. "These acts are heinous crimes against the most innocent members of our society, and I will do whatever I can do ensure purveyors of child pornography are caught and jailed."
The new bill would call for expanding the range of companies obligated to report child pornography to NCMEC and would impose higher fines and criminal penalties on companies that do not report child pornography. The bill would provide immunity for the electronic service providers to send pornographic images to NCMEC's congressionally mandated Cyber Tipline.
"With all of the horrifying instances of children being exploited by online predators, its stomach-churning that no law is on the books to require Internet Service Providers to report instances of child pornography on their services," Schumer said. "In a nutshell, this legislation provides a common-sense tool to the growing problem of Internet child pornography. While we can't see everything that happens on the Internet, we can work hard to build the next best thing - a system to report the illegal activity that is discovered. Many of us have worked for years to protect children - this bill takes our efforts to the 21st Century."
According to ECPAT International, a group dedicated to eliminating the sexual exploitation of children, the production and distribution of abuse images of children is estimated in the U.S. to be at least a 3 billion dollar business annually. Of all the child pornography images on the Internet, more than half are generated from the United States.
"Child pornography is a multi-billion business. Today's announcement by Senators McCain and Schumer and Representatives Chabot and Lampson marks an important step towards stopping the distribution of child pornography over the Internet. The SAFE Act will assist federal, state and local law enforcement in their investigations and prosecutions of people who distribute images of sexually abused children," said National Center for Missing & Exploited Children President and CEO Ernie Allen.
The SAFE Act of 2007 is supported by NCMEC, the National Sheriffs Association, Focus on the Family and the Family Research Council. A companion bill will be released in the U.S. House of Representatives by Congressmen Chabot (R-OH) and Lampson (D-TX).