Will Jeff Sessions drain the Internet swamp of crimes against children?
The following commentary by EIE President and CEO Donna Rice Hughes appeared on Jan. 10, 2017 in “The Hill.“
As the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee holds confirmation hearings for Senator Jeff Sessions to be the country’s eighty-fourth attorney general today, the committee will probe his views on law enforcement, criminal justice and a number of other legal issues.
According to the 2016 C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital National Poll on Children’s Health, Internet safety is now the 4th most commonly identified “big problem”, up from #8 in 2014 on the list of parent’s health concerns for children.
Sexting received the biggest change in rating this year, from #13 in 2014 to #6 in 2015; kids have had free and easy access to prosecutable Internet pornography for over two decades. Child pornographers, predators and traffickers often use anonymizing tools, the Deep Web and unregulated virtual currencies to cover their tracks. And the Internet-enabled sexual exploitation of children in travel and tourism (SECTT) has out-paced international and national efforts to curb the problem.
The endless sludge of criminal content and activity on the Internet must be drained and the rule of law upheld.
Last summer, Donald J. Trump signed Enough Is Enough’s Children’s Internet Safety Presidential Pledge which included the commitment to appoint an Attorney General who will make the prosecution of existing federal laws to prevent the sexual exploitation of children online a top priority.
One key area that the committee must address is Trump’s Pledge to appoint an Attorney General who will make the enforcement of the federal obscenity, child pornography, sexual predation and sex trafficking laws a top priority. Every child deserves a protected age of innocence.
The government must start doing its job by vigorously enforcing the laws designed to protect vulnerable children in the digital age. Therefore, some of the questions based on the Pledge the Judiciary Committee should ask Senator Sessions include:
- Will you aggressively enforce the existing federal obscenity laws, child pornography laws, sexual predation laws and the sex trafficking laws?
- Research substantiates that online pornography is a growing health crisis that must be addressed and reversed. What strategies would you implement to deal with the proliferation of prosecutable pornography which has been allowed to flourish online due to the failure of the Obama Justice Department to enforce the existing federal obscenity laws?
- How will you work with Congress and the White House to ensure law enforcement and intelligence agencies have the necessary tools, resources and support they need to investigate and prosecute child sexual exploitation, obscenity and child pornography and be of sufficient magnitude to effectively deter illegal activity on the Internet?
- How will you ensure the enforcement of the Children’s Internet Protection Act (CIPA), requiring schools and public libraries using government eRate monies to filter child pornography, obscene content and harmful to minors material? In particular, how will you, as attorney general hold public libraries accountable to filter and work with the FCC to ensure oversight?
- Most victims of child pornography are prepubescent with a growing trend towards the depiction of younger children, including infants. Child pornographers and sex traffickers are gravitating to the use sophisticated anonymizing tools to cover their tracks and the “Deep Web” sites that cater to their perversion which accept payment in unregulated currencies such as Bitcoin. How will you tackle these growing challenges?
- The sexual exploitation of children in travel and tourism (SECTT) has out-paced every attempt to respond at the international and national levels. The Internet has enabled offenders to groom children online, and to exchange information and advice on how to abuse children and avoid law enforcement detection… What strategies will you implement to get ahead of this growing trend?
- Will you support the work of a presidential commission to examine the harmful public health impact of Internet pornography on youth, families, and the prevention of sexual exploitation of children in the digital age?
Today’s youth have fully integrated the Internet into their daily lives, using technology as a pervasive platform for education, communication, interaction, exploration, and self-expression. Preventing the sexual exploitation of youth online requires a shared responsibility between the public, corporations and government.
A growing number of government commissions, task forces, scholars, and institutions have recognized the significant risks associated with unfettered Internet access by youth, and they have called upon governments, policy makers, caregivers, industry and educators to take action. The Presidential Pledge and supporting documentation, including the signed pledge by President-elect Trump can be found at http://enough.org/presidential_pledge
Donna Rice Hughes, Enough Is Enough®’s CEO & President has been an Internet safety pioneer, author, and speaker since 1994. As a media commentator, she has given thousands of interviews on Internet safety related issues. She has testified numerous times before Congress, and has served as a Child Online Protection Act (COPA) Commissioner and other national and state government task forces.
To view the commentary as it appears on The Hill, please click here.
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