[WASHINGTON, DC] – U.S. Senators Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) and John Cornyn (R-TX) released the following statement after their bipartisan legislation, the PROTECT Our Children Act, passed the U.S. Senate. This legislation, which now awaits the President’s signature, reauthorizes the Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) Task Force Program, a national network of 61 coordinated task forces representing 3,500 federal, state, and local law enforcement and prosecutorial agencies that combat online child exploitation across the country. Senators Dean Heller (R-NV) and Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) were original cosponsors of the legislation.
“The PROTECT Act reauthorizes critical task force programs – empowering state and local law enforcement to combat child abuse, protect survivors, and prosecute perpetrators who prey on the vulnerable. Senate passage of this significant bipartisan bill is a victory for those affected by the horrific crime of child exploitation – and a warning against any criminal who would exploit our children online,” said Blumenthal.
“Reauthorizing this critical program will help to ensure law enforcement agencies have the resources they need to combat online child exploitation nationwide,” Cornyn said. “This program equips agencies and communities with tools to better spot and prevent internet predators and support victims. I’m thankful for the support of my colleagues and look forward to the President signing this critical legislation soon.”
The PROTECT Our Children Act, originally passed in 2008, authorized the ICAC Task Force Program, a coordinated group of task forces representing 3,500 federal, state, and local law enforcement and prosecutorial agencies engaged in reactive and proactive investigations across the country. This legislation built upon work Senator Cornyn began as Texas Attorney General, when he created the Texas Internet Bureau to fight internet crimes like child pornography.
The ICAC Task Force Program helps local and state law enforcement respond to technology-facilitated child sexual exploitation and internet crimes against children, and offers guidance on victim support, forensic investigative components, training and technical assistance, and prevention and community education.
Organizations that support the PROTECT Our Children Act include the National Association to Protect Children (PROTECT), the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, RAINN (Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network), the National Children’s Alliance, Rights4Girls, Shared Hope, the Fraternal Order of Police, the National Association of Police Organizations, the Sergeants Benevolent Association, the Major County Sheriffs of America, the Association of State Criminal Investigative Agencies, the National Sheriffs Association, the Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association, the National District Attorneys Association, the National Criminal Justice Association, and the Major City Chiefs Police Association.