Schatz, Murkowski Introduce Bipartisan Legislation To Help The Defense Department Take On Child Pornography

U.S. Senators Brian Schatz (D-Hawai‘i) and Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) re-introduced the End National Defense (END) Network Abuse Act, bipartisan legislation that would help the Pentagon stop the unacceptable use of the Defense Department’s network to possess, procure, and even produce child pornography.

“The widespread abuse of the Department of Defense’s network to traffic child pornography must be stopped,” said Senator Schatz. “Our bill aims to do that by giving our military leaders the tools they need to get rid of child pornography on DoD’s network, go after offenders, and protect children.”

“Child sexual exploitation is a vile and sickening crime that is unfortunately a reality throughout the nation. Internet abuse knows no boundaries. One challenge we face in addressing this issue is that military services don’t currently have adequate investigative training and resources to police the trading of child pornography on its computer networks. We must ensure that military investigators have the proper tools to identify and apprehend these offenders, otherwise both civilian and military children within our communities will be left vulnerable,” said Senator Murkowski. “Child pornography, sexual abuse, and sex trafficking are horrifying and growing issues that will require a multifaceted response. This bill is a step in the right direction.”

A National Criminal Justice Training Center program found child pornography activity among nearly 5,000 IP addresses within the Department of Defense (DoD) network in 2017. A significant number of these IP addresses were associated with high numbers of images, an indicator that the individual trading these images is likely producing some of them, accordingly to law enforcement professionals.

In 2018, the program found that DoD’s network ranked 19th out of 2,891 networks nationwide when it came to peer-to-peer file trading of child pornography. Coupled with these troubling statistics is a lack of training and law enforcement tools for the DoD to take on child sexual exploitation.

The END Network Abuse Act would upgrade the training and technical capacity of military criminal investigative organizations to confront the misuse of DoD computers, facilities, and equipment to access and trade child pornography. It would also require DoD to enter into collaborative agreements with appropriate federal, state and local law enforcement entities, child protection organizations, trauma informed health care providers, and targeted social services.

“The END Network Abuse Act ensures that kids who are victimized by child pornography receive the services they need from our nation’s Children’s Advocacy Centers to help them heal. We appreciate the leadership of Sen. Schatz and Sen. Murkowski in addressing this pernicious form of abuse and helping those children victimized by it to recover,” said Teresa Huizar, Executive Director of National Children’s Alliance.

“This legislation will support that by providing the military with the training and tools necessary to combat online exploitation through Defense Department networks. Furthermore, it is essential that law enforcement prevent victimization of our most vulnerable citizens. This bill directly contributes to preventing the exploitation and victimization of our children through a coordinated, multifaceted response,” said David LaBahn, President and CEO of the Association of Prosecuting Attorneys.

“Passage of this critically important legislation would provide the resources necessary for military investigative personnel worldwide to receive the same training and access to resources currently available to the nation’s law enforcement community and help protect children residing both on and off military installations that are victimized by these offenders,” said Brad Russ, Executive Director of the National Criminal Justice Training Center.

The END Network Abuse Act is supported by the National Children’s Alliance, National Children’s Advocacy Center, National Criminal Justice Training Center, American Prosecutor’s Association, and National District Attorney’s Association.

For a summary of the END Network Abuse Act, click here.