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Durbin, Graham Applaud Senate Passage of Legislation to Reauthorize Missing Children’s Assistance Act

The bill’s passage advances the Senate Judiciary Committee’s bipartisan push to stop the exploitation of children online

WASHINGTON – This week, the U.S. Senate unanimously passed the Missing Children’s Assistance Reauthorization Act of 2023. The bill renews funding for the Missing Children’s Assistance Act (MCAA) through Fiscal Year 2028 and updates the statute concerning the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children (NCMEC).

As the bill’s sponsors, U.S. Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL), Chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, and U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Ranking Member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, released the following statement on its passage:

“NCMEC’s work is an invaluable lifeline. For nearly 40 years, the organization has protected kids from exploitation nationwide, and it needs to be able to continue its work uninterrupted. While the Senate Judiciary Committee continues to find bipartisan successes advancing legislation to hold Big Tech accountable and stop the exploitation of children online, we must reauthorize the MCAA to keep these programs strong. We urge our colleagues in the House to protect our kids by passing this bill swiftly, so President Biden can sign it into law.”

NCMEC, which receives funding through the MCAA, describes itself as “a private, non-profit 501(c)(3) corporation whose mission is to help find missing children, reduce child sexual exploitation, and prevent child victimization. NCMEC works with families, victims, private industry, law enforcement, and the public to assist with preventing child abductions, recovering missing children, and providing services to deter and combat child sexual exploitation.” Among its many programs, NCMEC operates:

  • A national 24-hour toll-free hotline for individuals to report information regarding the location of any missing child;
  • The CyberTipline, the nation’s centralized reporting system for the online exploitation of children, which is used by both individuals and online providers (who are required to submit reports of suspected child sexual abuse material (CSAM) offenses); and,
  • The Child Victim Identification Program, the nation’s clearinghouse on identified child victims of CSAM, which is used to identify and locate children depicted in CSAM.

In addition to reauthorizing NCMEC’s grant, the legislation makes minor revisions to its authorization. Specifically, the Missing Children’s Assistance Reauthorization Act of 2023 would:

  • Authorize $49,300,000 per year for FY24 – FY28 for missing and exploited children’s programs, of which $41.5 million would go to NCMEC; 
  • Add provisions that define sexting, sextortion, and sexually exploited child;
  • Expand NCMEC’s ability to provide referrals to legal and support services for missing and exploited children;
  • Permit NCMEC to provide technical assistance on background checks for individuals working with children; and,
  • Codify a program currently being run by NCMEC to facilitate requests to providers to remove CSAM.

Historically, this legislation has been sponsored by the Chair and Ranking Member of the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Since the Senate Judiciary Committee’s hearing on this issue in February, six bills have recently advanced out of the Senate Judiciary Committee on a bipartisan basis to help stop the exploitation of kids online, including:

  • The STOP CSAM Act, which supports victims and increases accountability and transparency for online platforms.
  • The EARN IT Act, which removes tech’s blanket immunity from civil and criminal liability under child sexual abuse material laws and establishes a National Commission on Online Child Sexual Exploitation Prevention.
  • The SHIELD Act, which ensures that federal prosecutors have appropriate and effective tools to address the nonconsensual distribution of sexual imagery.
  • The Project Safe Childhood Act, which modernizes the investigation and prosecution of online child exploitation crimes.
  • The REPORT Act, which combats the rise in online child sexual exploitation by instilling new measures to help strengthen reporting of those crimes to the CyberTipline.
  • The Cooper Davis Act, which requires social media companies to report the illegal sale and distribution of fentanyl and other drugs on their platforms when they become aware of it.