Wasserman Schultz, Moskowitz Tour Front Lines in Fight to Protect Children from Internet Predators
Seeing up close the work they do, it’s heartbreaking to see the unfathomable and horrific crimes these teams help prevent and prosecute, but I also see the unmet needs that must be tackled as the perpetrators become even more tech savvy. After seeing the ICAC Task Force’s latest efforts, I remain committed to fortifying these vital child protection teams, and I’ll fight for the record funding that I helped secure in the FY 2024 House appropriations bill.
Fort Lauderdale, Fla. – Late yesterday, U.S. Reps. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (FL-25) and Jared Moskowitz (FL-23) took a behind-the-scenes look at the latest in child exploitation investigation protocols and assessed the work and needs of a front-line Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) Task Force, which protects our children from internet predators.
Schultz, Moskowitz and a staff member for U.S. Rep. Sheila Cherfilus-McCormick (FL-20) joined various Florida ICAC commanders and frontline investigators on site to see how predator investigations unfold and the types of technologies and resources that are deployed.
“I am proud to have authored the Protect Our Children Act that embedded the Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force into federal law,” said Congresswoman Wasserman Schultz, after Tuesday’s visit. “Seeing up close the work they do, it’s heartbreaking to see the unfathomable and horrific crimes these teams help prevent and prosecute, but I also see the unmet needs that must be tackled as the perpetrators become even more tech savvy. After seeing the ICAC Task Force’s latest efforts, I remain committed to fortifying these vital child protection teams, and I’ll fight for the record funding that I helped secure in the FY 2024 House appropriations bill.”
“The exploitation of children on the internet has hit record highs. There is nothing more disturbing than an individual exploiting a child. These unfathomable actions taken by sick individuals not only destroy the lives of young children, but they destroy families and communities,” said Congressman Moskowitz. “Working alongside Congresswoman Wasserman Schultz, we will renew our efforts to ensure law enforcement has every tool available to help protect our children from individuals who wish to destroy a child’s life.”
“With the advent of the internet, reprehensible predators have been able to lurk in the online shadows and target children from behind a screen,” said Congresswoman Cherfilus-McCormick. “Law enforcement officials must be fully equipped to identify and arrest these bad actors before children find themselves in harm’s way. In Congress, I will fight so that local, state, and federal authorities have the resources necessary to prevent exploitation online and can keep the most vulnerable members of our society safe.”
The ICAC task forces aid local and state law enforcement in the creation and implementation of effective responses to technology-facilitated child sexual exploitation and Internet crimes against children. ICAC Task Forces were originally authorized in the PROTECT Our Children Act of 2008, and this legislation was first introduced in the House of Representatives by Wasserman Schultz and Lamar Smith (TX-21), and co-led by then Senator Joe Biden. It was re-authorized in 2022, and that bill also reauthorized the National Strategy for Child Exploitation Prevention and Interdiction.
Today, ICAC is comprised of a national network of 61 coordinated task forces, from over 5,400 federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies. They are dedicated to investigating, prosecuting, and developing effective responses to internet crimes against children. At least one ICAC task force exists in all 50 states, with three of them in Florida.
“Reports of internet facilitated child exploitation have grown to their highest recorded levels. The number of reports reflects not only activity that must be countered, but the cases are increasingly complicated by encryption, capacity, and virtualization. This leaves law enforcement unable to field a necessary response to reported crimes and preparation for future threats,” said John Pizzuro, CEO, Raven, a nationwide advocacy non-profit dedicated to combating child exploitation. “Our nation’s response to the threat against our children must be one of resolve, urgency, and commitment. Raven applauds Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, Rep. Jared Moskowitz, and Rep. Sheila Cherfilus-McCormick for their commitment to passing much needed legislation to increase resources to law enforcement so they can rescue the victims of today and prevent the victims of tomorrow.”
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