House bill targets use of Pentagon networks for child pornography

House bill targets use of Pentagon networks for child pornography
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Reps. Abigail SpanbergerAbigail Davis SpanbergerBipartisan lawmakers introduce bill to limit further expansion of 2001 Authorization for Use of Military Force Trade groups make lobbying push to be included in small business loan program Virginia GOP to pick House nominee after candidate misses filing deadline MORE (D-Va.) and Mark MeadowsMark Randall MeadowsMeadows trying to root out suspected White House leakers by feeding them info: Axios Trump wears mask during visit to Walter Reed Barr recommended Trump not give Stone clemency: report MORE (R-N.C.) introduced legislation on Tuesday meant to halt the use of Department of Defense (DOD) computer networks by users for sharing or procuring pornographic images of children.

The End National Defense Network Abuse (END Network Abuse) was introduced in the wake of in an investigation called “Project Flicker” carried out by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. This investigation identified over 5,000 individuals, including many affiliated with DOD, who were subscribed to child porn websites.

The Pentagon's Defense Criminal Investigative Service subsequently identified hundreds of DOD-affiliated individuals as suspects involved in accessing child pornography, several of whom used government devices to view and share the images.

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The END Network Abuse Act would require the Pentagon to enter into agreements with groups including law enforcement, child protection services, social services, and trauma-informed healthcare providers in order to cut down or halt the spread and impact of these images on DOD networks. The bill would also upgrade the training and technical expertise of the military organizations involved in investigating these types of crimes.

The bill is being co-sponsored by Reps. Anna EshooAnna Georges EshooDemocrats fear US already lost COVID-19 battle Why drug costs for older Americans should be capped in pandemic's wake Senate panel advances bill targeting online child sexual abuse MORE (D-Calif.) and T.J. Cox (D-Calif.).

The National Criminal Justice Training Center, one of the groups that has thrown its weight behind the bill, reported in 2018 that DOD's network was ranked 19th out of almost 3,000 nationwide networks on the amount of peer-to-peer child pornography sharing.

Spanberger described the issues of child sexual exploitation and abuse as “horrific crimes.”

“The notion that the Department of Defense’s network and Pentagon-issued computers may be used to view, create, or circulate such horrifying images is a shameful disgrace, and one we must fight head on,” Spanberger said in statement.

Meadows added that the “peer-to-peer trading of child pornography is an unacceptable practice, and federal agencies cannot allow their networks to become a platform for it.”

There is a Senate version of the bill that was introduced in May by Sens. Brian SchatzBrian Emanuel SchatzCensus workers prepare to go door-knocking in pandemic Data shows seven Senate Democrats have majority non-white staffs Overnight Defense: Lawmakers demand answers on reported Russian bounties for US troops deaths in Afghanistan | Defense bill amendments target Germany withdrawal, Pentagon program giving weapons to police MORE (D-Hawaii) and Lisa MurkowskiLisa Ann MurkowskiSixth GOP senator unlikely to attend Republican convention Koch-backed group urges Senate to oppose 'bailouts' of states in new ads The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Trump backs another T stimulus, urges governors to reopen schools MORE (R-Alaska). A spokesperson for Spanberger told The Hill that while there are no set dates in either the House or Senate for marking up the bill, the sponsors are trying to pass it “both as individual bills and as amendments” to other legislative packages.

Multiple health care and child protection groups have expressed support for the bill, including the American Academy of Pediatrics, the National Children’s Alliance, and the National Children’s Advocacy Center.