Atlanta Journal-Constitution

WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden signed into law Tuesday a bill sponsored by U.S. Sen. Jon Ossoff strengthening requirements for internet providers and websites to submit reports to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children when they suspect a child is being sexually exploited online.

Ossoff, a Democrat from Atlanta, championed the legislation after hearing from child welfare advocates about the rise in reports of online sexual abuse schemes targeting minors. In September, he and Sen. Marsha Blackburn, a Tennessee Republican, launched a Senate inquiry into the FBI’s ability to respond to these crimes.

Ossoff and Blackburn worked together as the primary Senate sponsors of the legislation beefing up reporting requirements.

“My bipartisan law with Sen. Blackburn will ensure tech companies are held accountable to report and remove child sex abuse material and to strengthen protection for kids online,” Ossoff said in a news release. “At a time of such division in Congress, we successfully brought Republicans and Democrats together to protect kids on the internet, and now our bill is law.”

In the new law, penalties for providers are increased from $150,000 to up to $1 million per violation.

The final version of the legislation also incorporated language that U.S. Rep. Lucy McBath, D-Marietta, had championed in a proposal of her own.

McBath’s portion of the bill extends the time period that technology companies are required to preserve child sexual abuse images they report to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, which will allow law enforcement agencies a longer window to investigate and potentially bring charges.

McBath had filed her legislation every legislative session since taking office in 2019, and it is now part of Ossoff’s bill that became law. She said in a statement she was pleased her efforts finally paid off.

“As modern technology advances and evolves, so do the risks and threats facing our children,” McBath said. “We must give parents and law enforcement every tool necessary to put an end to child abuse and exploitation on the internet.”