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Please Cosponsor the Child Online Safety Modernization Act (H.R. 5182)
In early March of this year, the House Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on Crime and Federal Government Surveillance held a hearing entitled “A Voice for the Voiceless – CSAM Identification.” This hearing came on the heels of the Senate Judiciary’s explosive hearing entitled “Big Tech and the Online Child Sexual Exploitation Crisis.” There is no question that the exploitation of children online has grown to unprecedented levels. The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC)’s CyberTipline has seen a 329% increase in child sexual abuse material (CSAM) files reported in the last five years. In 2023, NCMEC received over 36.2 million reports of CSAM. The Child’s Online Safety Modernization Act (COSMA), H.R. 5182, is a straightforward bill that would address some of the most pressing issues when it comes to protecting exploited children online.

Currently, there are no legal requirements regarding what information an electronic service provider (ESP) must provide when sending a CSAM report to NCMEC. The lack of useful information often leads to law enforcement not being able to identify and locate an exploited child or their abuser. NCMEC shared over 3,000,000 reports with federal, state, and local law enforcement in 2022, yet over 40% of those were lacking information to act or concerned viral imagery. COSMA combats this ongoing issue by requiring reports to include information that will help law enforcement bring justice to the exploited child through rescue and catching the perpetrator. 

While there is an increase in CSAM reports every year, there is in no way an equal growth of law enforcement to address the issue. ESPs are only required to keep the content of their report for 90 days, but this current retention time is sincerely lacking, providing little time for law enforcement to properly address each case – often leading to cases never being addressed. COSMA addresses this issue by extending the required preservation of reports from 90 days to one year. 

Terminology is important. As lawmakers it is imperative that one uses precise terms. “Child pornography,” the terminology used in current statute, can be deceitful. A more precise and overall better terminology would be “child sexual abuse material.” Children can never consent to sexual advances, not to mention that a large portion of the content degrades the child to unspeakable horrors, like subjecting children to conduct acts on animals or utilizing bondages. It is easy to see that any individual who sexualizes a child is willing to stoop to unthinkable evils for their egregious exploitation.

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