Aug 9, 2023 | Press Releases

Nunn, Bipartisan Members Introduce Legislation Protecting Children from Sexual Abuse

DES MOINES – U.S. Representatives Zach Nunn (IA-03), Ann Wagner (MO-02), and Sylvia Garcia (TX-29) today introduced bipartisan legislation to protect children and hold those who exploit children or violate laws related to child sexual abuse accountable. The bipartisan Child Online Safety Modernization Act will enhance reporting to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (CMEC) CyberTipline so law enforcement can better prosecute criminals sexually abusing children. 
“As a father with six young children, there’s nothing in the world I wouldn’t do to protect them,” said Rep. Nunn. “The appalling number of reports of sexual abuse to the CyberTipline indicate that we have a crisis on our hands. We must take action to stop this horrific abuse and ensure victims get justice.”  
The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) is a Congressionally-mandated nonprofit organization that operates the CyberTipline, which is a national clearinghouse for the public and online platforms to report instances of child sexual exploitation on the internet. In 2022, the NCMEC CyberTipline received more than 32 million reports of online child sexual abuse material—equaling approximately 87,600 reports of online child sexual exploitation per day and constituting an 89 percent increase from pre-pandemic levels in 2019.  

“In 2022, the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children received more than 32 million reports of online child sexual abuse material, sometimes called ‘child pornography.’ That’s equal to approximately 87,600 reports per day of images and videos of children being sexually exploited. My legislation, the Child Online Safety Modernization Act, will advance common-sense, bipartisan, and bicameral solutions to help law enforcement investigate these cases, rescue vulnerable children, and apprehend online predators,” said Rep. Wagner.  “Additionally, this bill will make it clear that images and videos of children being raped is not ‘pornography,’ it is sexual abuse of a child. America cannot, and should not, accept a reality where innocent children are sexually exploited for financial gain. Congress must do everything in its power to end this scourge against humanity, and my legislation will help protect innocent victims from some of the most destructive criminals in our society.”
Under current law, online platforms are not required to report instances of child sex trafficking or the sexual enticement of a child to the CyberTipline. If an online platform submits a report, there are currently no requirements for what must be included. Due to this gap, platforms often do not report substantive and actionable information, leaving law enforcement unable to locate and rescue the child. In 2022, over 50 percent of the 32 million reports submitted to NCMEC lacked so much information that the report could not be investigated by law enforcement.  
“In today’s modern society, it has become increasingly important to hold accountable those individuals that would sexually coerce and extort our children. As elected officials, there is no greater responsibility than ensuring we are keeping our children safe,” said Rep. Garcia. “This is why I’m proud to co-lead the Online Safety Modernization Act of 2023 because it is a step toward preventing online sexual abuse from occurring in our society today.”
The Child Online Safety Modernization Act will modernize the NCMEC CyberTipline and ensure law enforcement has sufficient time to investigate these crimes by: 

  • Requiring online platforms to report instances of child sex trafficking with information to help law enforcement identify and locate the victim 
  • Extending the required preservation timeline of reports to the CyberTipline from 90 days to one year so law enforcement has proper time to investigate 
  • Replacing the term “child pornography” with “child sexual abuse material” to properly reflect the images being shared 

The Child Online Safety Modernization Act is endorsed by the following national organizations: 

  • National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) 
  • National Children’s Alliance 
  • Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network (RAINN) 
  • National Center on Sexual Exploitation (NCOSE) 
  • Raven 
  • Protect All Children from Trafficking (PACT) 
  • Ending OSEAC Coalition 
  • International Justice Mission 

The text of the legislation is available here