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 SpanbergerHouse Democrats launch effort to register minority voters in key districts House passes bills to gain upper hand in race to 5G The biggest political upsets of the decade MORE (D-Va.) and Mark MeadowsMark Randall MeadowsThe Hill's Morning Report — Dems detail case to remove Trump for abuse of power GOP warns of 'drawn out' executive privilege battle over Bolton testimony  GOP cries boredom in attack on impeachment case 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 EshooHillicon Valley: Biden calls for revoking tech legal shield | DHS chief 'fully expects' Russia to try to interfere in 2020 | Smaller companies testify against Big Tech 'monopoly power' Lawmakers call for FTC probe into top financial data aggregator Overnight Health Care: Health insurers urge Supreme Court to take ObamaCare case | Lawmakers press Trump officials to change marijuana rules | Bloomberg vows to ban flavored e-cigs if elected 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 SchatzDemocrats: McConnell impeachment trial rules a 'cover-up,' 'national disgrace' Overnight Defense: Book says Trump called military leaders 'dopes and babies' | House reinvites Pompeo for Iran hearing | Dems urge Esper to reject border wall funding request Senate Dems urge Esper to oppose shifting Pentagon money to border wall MORE (D-Hawaii) and Lisa MurkowskiLisa Ann MurkowskiSchiff sparks blowback with head on a 'pike' line Democrats feel political momentum swinging to them on impeachment Nadler calls Trump a 'dictator' on Senate floor 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.