Background: Magnitude of the Crisis Revealed
In 2006, Congress began a series of hearings on the exploding child exploitation crisis in the United States. For the first time ever, law enforcement publicly revealed that it was detecting, tracking, and even mapping the location of suspects.
This brought into view a picture of child abuse and exploitation for the first time in history. Predators who had flourished in the shadows for generations were now hiding in plain sight, their Internet activity like emergency beacons leading straight to their front door.
During a 2006 House Energy and Commerce Committee hearing, Rep. Joe Barton (R-TX) grilled a series of government witnesses about the magnitude of child exploitation in the U.S. and the degree of resources needed to combat it.
Witnesses from the U.S. Department of Justice, the FBI, and the Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) task force program all agreed that “hundreds of thousands” of individuals in the U.S. were using the Internet to access and distribute child abuse imagery.
Current Situation: The Window of Opportunity is Closing
PROTECT has testified before the U.S. House Judiciary Committee that the window of opportunity was closing as the hundreds of thousands of criminals clearly visible to law enforcement were getting increasingly sophisticated about avoiding detection.
Over 100,000 children could be rescued right now - but we have to act fast.
These maps were produced in 2008 by the U.S. Justice Department-sponsored ICAC Data Network (IDN). The IDN reported it was logging 20,000 unique suspects a day and 300,000 a year on just one of 13 peer-to-peer file-sharing networks.
As we predicted, since 2008, the window has been closing as new technologies enabled traffickers to more easily hide their locations and identities.
In 2016, law enforcement reported a mass migration of child exploitation activity from arenas visible to law enforcement into the “Dark Net,” where only a handful of federal agents can follow.
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