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Durbin, Graham Introduce Bipartisan Legislation to Reauthorize Missing Children’s Assistance Act

WASHINGTON – 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, today introduced the Missing Children’s Assistance Reauthorization Act of 2023, which 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). 

“NCMEC has been leading the fight to protect our kids since its creation in 1984.  Much has changed in those nearly 40 years, but NCMEC’s commitment to protecting our children has not,” said Durbin.  “I’m working with Ranking Member Graham in the Judiciary Committee to take vigorous action to hold Big Tech accountable and stop the online exploitation of our children.   In the meantime, Congress should reauthorize the Missing Children’s Assistance Act quickly so these organizations can continue their great work uninterrupted.  I hope every member of the Senate will join us in protecting our kids.”

“NCMEC is one of the most important organizations we have to protect children.  I’m glad to work in a bipartisan fashion to help keep NCMEC’s programs up and running,” said Graham.

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.

The Senate Judiciary Committee has recentlyadvancedout of Committee a package of five bipartisan bills aimed at stopping the exploitation of children online.  Durbin’s Strengthening Transparency and Obligations to Protect Children Suffering from Abuse and Mistreatment Act of 2023 (STOP CSAM Act) supports victims and increases accountability and transparency for online platforms.  The EARN IT Act creates targeted exceptions to Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act of 1996 to remove 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 ensures that federal prosecutors have appropriate and effective tools to address serious privacy violations.  The Project Safe Childhood Act modernizes the investigation and prosecution of online child exploitation crimes.  And the REPORT Act combats the rise in online child sexual exploitation by implementing new measures to help strengthen reporting of those crimes to the CyberTipline.