Cybele K. Daley, Deputy Assistant Attorney General
Office of Justice Programs
Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force Chief Executive Officer Briefing
San Diego, CA
January 25, 2006
Thank you, Ron (Laney).
I'm pleased to be here representing the Department of Justice's Office of Justice Programs on behalf of Assistant Attorney General Regina Schofield.
I want to pass along Assistant Attorney General Schofield's regrets for not being able to join you today. She's at home taking care of a new baby girl, born a little over two months ago. Our best wishes to her and her baby.
I also want to thank all of you for taking the time to join us today. You and the members of these 45 task forces are essential to fighting crimes against children. The Internet is just the latest way that criminals have found to prey on our children.
Our goal at the Office of Justice Programs (OJP) is to provide critical support to you and others in law enforcement who are on the frontlines in the effort to crack down on Internet crimes.
OJP is awarding more than $14 million to fund ICAC task forces, including a new task force in Southern Texas. This will bring us to 46 task forces in operation across the country.
The ICAC program provides resources to aid in the prevention, investigation, forensic examinations, and training for law enforcement officers and prosecutors. It is time and money that is well spent.
The ICAC Task Forces are incredibly effective. For example, since 1998 when ICAC was created, the task forces have received more than 250,000 complaints of child sexual exploitation facilitated by computers. The task force operations have led to nearly 6,000 arrests nationwide and forensic exams of more than 23,000 computers. In addition, more than 134,000 law enforcement officers and prosecutors have received training on how to conduct these investigations.
In May 2005, the ICAC task forces played a key role in Operation Peerless. This was a national effort to combat child pornography trafficked through peer-to-peer computer networks. As some of you may know, peer-to-peer software provides direct links between users and allows users to avoid the firewalls installed on regular Internet servers. As you can imagine, it enables a great deal of illegal activity.
Through Operation Peerless, authorities identified more than 3,500 computers that shared child pornography and arrested and prosecuted more than 65 individuals. An additional 10 suspects have been arrested and are awaiting prosecution.
On the heels of Operation Peerless, ICAC task forces have stepped up their undercover operations in the peer to peer environments. For example, under Operation Peer Precision, more than 3 million computers worldwide have been identified as sharing child pornography. The volume of activity is so great that ICAC task forces have reached out and partnered with more than a dozen countries in Europe, Asia, South America, and Africa.
As the numbers suggest, and as the task forces have in fact discovered, computer-facilitated child sexual exploitation is becoming more organized. It's part of a trend in the world of organized crime.
ICAC has helped to improve our understanding of the dynamics of Internet crime, and this knowledge is a crime-fighting tool in itself. For example, most task force investigations have involved substantial communication and coordination between federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies.
This proves that cybercrime makes jurisdictional boundaries obsolete. In response, OJP has published program standards to facilitate interagency referrals of child pornography and cyber-enticement cases.
We've also learned that most investigations are initiated in response to citizen complaints, rather than through undercover operations in which officers pose as minors in a chatroom.
For example, the CyberTipline, operated by our friends at the The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, has been an invaluable partner in ICAC's efforts.
The CyberTipline is a one-stop reporting point for citizens with information about suspicious Internet activity.
Specially trained analysts review and verify all information that comes in through the tipline and then forward those leads to appropriate law enforcement agencies. Since it began operation more than six years ago, the CyberTipline has received tens of thousands of reports regarding the sexual exploitation of children.
Although we've learned that many people know about cybercrime, they still are not sufficiently informed about what to do when they encounter it. For example, parents may not realize how quickly their children can be lured into meeting with strangers they have met online. In one instance, it took just 45 minutes for a task force officer, posing as a teenager, to arrange a meeting with a 13-year-old girl.
And parents don't always know what to do when they come across suspicious activity. ICAC task forces have investigated several cases in which vigilant parents warded off perpetrators, but did not call the CyberTipline. Although their children were spared harm, the perpetrators probably went on to victimize other children.
We are working diligently to remedy this insidious threat to public safety. President Bush himself elevated his attack on cybercrime, indeed on crimes against children in general, when he signed the PROTECT Act in 2003.
The PROTECT Act gives law enforcement expanded authority to address the full range of serious sex crimes against children. It also applies appropriate penalties. Now, a first-time offender who uses a child to produce pornography faces 15 to 30 years. The law delivers on the President's promise to perpetrators that, and I quote, "if you prey on our children, there will be serious, severe consequences."
We know that an estimated 20 percent of youth who use the Internet receive at least one online sexual approach or solicitation over the course of a year.
With your help, ICAC can move aggressively to create a broad network that can help ensure the safety of the more than 10 million children who currently explore and navigate the Internet. The skills your staff learns while working on the task force will transfer to other areas.
As a result, we will be able to address other crimes against children and make both the real and the online world safer for them.
Again, thank you for your support and leadership, and we look forward to your continued participation in this very important endeavor.