Thanks to Oprah Moms, “Protect Our Children Act” Passed in Congress By Landslide

Detailed Breakdown of the PROTECT Our Children Act
As Passed by Congress, September 27, 2008

Requires the Attorney General to submit to Congress a National Strategy for Child Exploitation Prevention and Intervention
National Strategy must include:

Budget priorities by agency and program; annual and 5-year targets and objectives; review of progress by agency and program; plans for domestic, international and interagency cooperation; details on ICAC program, including arrests and referrals for local and federal prosecution; training and technical assistance assessment; review of forensic analysis backlogs at federal, state and local levels and plans for reducing backlogs; review of prevention and education programs; assessment of trends and new technologies; plans for liaisons with judicial branches; assessment of investigative and prosecution activity, including total number of high-priority suspects identified, total number of investigations, arrests and prosecutions and average sentenced imposed and statutory maximum for each crime; review of all available statistical data indicating the overall magnitude of child pornography trafficking, including number of computers observed engaging in peer-to-peer file-sharing, commercial child exploitation and all other related activty, including CyberTipline; copies of recent research on link between possession and child sexual assault and other related issues; review of private-public partnerships and national training conferences.

Requires Attorney General to Appoint a Federal High-Level Official to develop coordinated National Strategy

Creates Statutory Guidelines for Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) Task Force Program
Makes permanent and provides clear guidelines for the critical ICAC program, essentially codifying existing program guidelines. Highlights include: requires at least one ICAC in each state; requires Attorney General to continue funding existing ICACs unless he makes an express determination ICAC is failing; limits ICAC training grants to $2 million for any one grantee; spells out purpose and duties for ICACs

Creates New Formula Grant Program for ICAC Task Force Program
Formula grant program based on established federal law enforcement grant programs. At least 75% of total funds appropriated as follows: first 25% distributed equally to each state; remainder distributed based on population of state, number of investigative leads and referrals, other criteria as determined by the Attorney General. Remaining funds distributed based on need. Creates 25% local match in non-federal funds, with hardship waiver available. Requires extensive reporting for accountability.

Requires Law Enforcement to Prioritize Proactive Investigations and Child Rescue Leads
Requires ICAC task forces to put emphasis on proactive investigations and to place priority on leads that indicate the possibility of a child rescue.

Requires Establishment of National Law Enforcement Platform to Combat Child Exploitation (prohibiting outsourcing or privatization), Authorizing $2 Million Annually

Expresses that the intent of Congress in creating the National Internet Crimes Against Children Data System is to “continue and build upon Operation Fairplay of the Wyoming Attorney General’s office;” establishes purpose of system as assisting and supporting credential law enforcement agencies investigating child exploitation, including foreign and international agencies, subject to approval of the Attorney General. System shall provide: law enforcement deconfliction and information-sharing, allowing participants to contribute and access data; a dynamic undercover infrastructure (“directly or in partnership with a credentialed law enforcement agency); facilitation in developing essential software and network capability for law enforcement participants; software or direct hosting support for online investigations, or a secure connection to an alternative system hosted within a governmental agency or credentialed law enforcement agency. Authorizes $2 million annually for this purpose

Requires Nationwide Real-Time Reporting for Child Rescues
Requires National Internet Crimes Against Children Data System to perform real-time reporting: “All child exploitation cases involving local child victims that are reasonably detectable using available software and data are, immediately upon their detection, [shall be] made available to participating law enforcement agencies.”

Requires Nationwide Distribution to Law Enforcement of High-Priority Suspect Leads
Requires National Internet Crimes Against Children Data System to identify high-priority suspects and to distribute those leads to law enforcement agencies every 30 days at a minimum.

Requires Publication of Statistical Data on Full Magnitude of Child Exploitation in the U.S. and Internationally
Requires that Data System release aggragate data “indicating the overal magnitude of child pornography trafficking and child exploitation” annually.

Prohibits Department of Justice from Preventing State and Local Law Enforcement Agencies from Disclosing Magnitude of Problem

Requires that National Internet Crimes Against Children Data System Maintain Secure Connections with State and Local Law Enforcement Computer Networks
“Consistent with reasonable and established security protocols and guidelines.”

Creates Steering Committee for National Internet Crimes Against Children Data System
Requires Attorney General to establish 10-member steering committee with the following participants: 3 elected by ICAC task force directors, representing different geographical areas of country; 1 from Department of Justice Office of Information Services; 1 from Wyoming’s Operation Fairplay; 1 from the law enforcement agency with primary responsiblity for hosting Data System; 1 from FBI’s Innocent Images National Initiative or RCFL program; 1 from ICE Cyber Crimes Center; 1 from U.S. Postal Inspection Service; 1 from Department of Justice.

More Than Triples Funding Authorization for the Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) Task Force Program
Authorizes $60 million in fiscal years 2009-2013 for the ICAC task force program.

Expands Dedicated Federal Computer Forensics Capacity Each Year for Five Years
Authorizes $2 million annually to expand federal computer forensic labs or build new ones, requiring that these resources be exclusively dedicated to crimes against children. Requires Attorney General to submit annual report to Congress detailing how funds were utilized.

New Criminal Penalties for Broadcasting Live Images of Child Abuse
Amends existing law to more clearly criminalize live child abuse feeds, where perpetrator may not store images in a permanent format.

New Criminal Penalties for Modifying an Image of an Identifiable Minor to Produce Child Pornography
Amends existing law to criminalize grafting the image of an actual child onto another image to create child pornography.

NIJ Study of Risk Factors that would Allow Investigators to Improve Child Rescue Capability
Requires the National Institute of Justice to conduct study “to identify investigative factors that reliably indicate whether a subject of an online child exploitation investigation poses a high risk of harm to children.” Authorizes $500,000 for this purpose.

Note: Earlier provisions to authorize increased funding for FBI, ICE and USPIS personnel and resources were cut from bill under pressure from members of the Senate minority. PROTECT will nevertheless advocate strenuously for these funds in the federal appropriations process.

ArticleLara Barger