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Congress Passes Bills to Protect Children

Combating Child Exploitation

On September 25, the Senate approved, by unanimous consent, the Combating Child Exploitation Act (S. 1738), after adopting, also by unanimous consent, a substitute amendment by Sen. Joe Biden (D-DE). The next day, the House passed the bill, by voice vote. The Senate Judiciary Committee approved it on May 15 (see The Source, 5/16/08). The president is expected to sign the bill into law.

The legislation would establish within the Office of the Deputy Attorney General a special counsel for Child Exploitation Prevention and Interdiction to coordinate prevention and exploitation policies and strategies. The measure also would establish the Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force (ICAC). The task force would be comprised of state and local law enforcement groups dedicated to the detection, investigation, and apprehension of people who commit Internet-based crimes against children. The bill would authorize $2 million per year for FY2009-2016 for activities associated with the task force; an additional $60 million per year for FY2009-2016 would be authorized for grants to state and local task forces.

It also would prohibit the broadcast of live images of child abuse and the alteration of an image of a real child to create an image of sexually explicit conduct. In addition, the substitute amendment would authorize $1 million for the National Institute of Justice to prepare a report indicating whether individuals under investigation for child exploitation pose further risk of harm to children.

The measure would authorize $15 million annually for FY2009-2016 to the Department of Homeland Security to hire new staff to work on preventing child exploitation and child obscenity, and $5 million annually for FY2009-2016 to the postmaster general to hire full-time postal inspectors to work on preventing child exploitation and child obscenity.

Effective Child Pornography Prosecution Act  

On September 23, the Senate passed, by unanimous consent, H.R. 4120, the Effective Child Pornography Prosecution Act, after passing, by unanimous consent, an amendment by Sen. Robert Menendez (D-NJ) to ensure that federal regulators would not have to prove interstate transmission of child pornography. On September 26, the House approved, 418-0, the Senate-passed version of H.R. 4120. The House approved the bill in its original form on November 14, 2007 (see The Source, 11/16/07).

Keeping the Internet Devoid of Sexual Predators (KIDS) Act 

On September 27, the House passed, by voice vote, S. 431, the Keeping the Internet Devoid of Sexual Predators (KIDS) Act. The House-passed bill includes an amendment, agreed to by voice vote, from Rep. John Conyers (D-MI), with minor clarifying provisions.The bill passed the Senate on May 20 (see The Source, 5/23/08).

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