House Passes Schultz Internet Crime Bill

November 14, 2007. The House passed HR 3845 [LOC | WW], the "Providing Resources, Officers, and Technology to Eradicate Cyber Threats to Our Children Act of 2007" or "PROTECT Our Children Act", without amendment, by a vote of 415-2. See, Roll Call No. 1091.

This is a bill to authorize the appropriation of about a billion dollars over eight years to support state and federal government efforts to protect children online.

For a summary of the bill, see story titled "Rep. Schultz Introduces Bill to Fund Programs Related to Internet Crimes Against Children" in TLJ Daily E-Mail Alert No. 1,674, November 12, 2007.

Rep. Debbie Schultz (D-FL), the sponsor of the bill, stated in the House debate that "The Internet has facilitated an exploding multibillion dollar market for child pornography. Tragically, the demand for this criminal market can only be supplied by graphic new images, and these can only be supplied through the sexual assault of more children."

Rep. Debbie Schultz"It is clear that our current efforts are not working. We need a national campaign", said Rep. Schultz (at right).

She offered this summary of the bill. It "will help provide the safety net we so desperately need by creating statutory authority for these highly successful ICAC task forces which support State and local law enforcement agencies. It will supplement this local effort with hundreds of new Federal agents who will be solely dedicated to crimes against children. It will also provide desperately needed forensic crime and computer labs so agents can uncover troves of electronic evidence, locate these perpetrators, and bring them to justice. Finally, the bill will create a special counsel within the Department of Justice who will be responsible for planning and coordinating our child exploitation prosecution efforts across the Federal agencies."

This bill, and some of the other bills related to crime, the internet, pornography, and/or children adopted by the House on November 13-15, 2007, did not follow normal legislative procedure. Several received no hearing. Several were not reported by the House Judiciary Committee (HJC), which has jurisdiction over crime bills. Some bills were not introduced until last week. No amendments for any of these bills were allowed to be offered to consideration by the House.

Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-VA), a member of the HJC, complained during the House debate that "the majority has decided to promote politics rather than fully protecting our Nation's children. In its last-minute rush to bring bills to the floor, the majority has selected five bills addressing the problem of sex offenders on the Internet and Internet safety for children. These bills were never considered by the Judiciary Committee, never subject to legislative hearings, and never brought through the markup process."

He argued that "the majority's bills ignore the needs of law enforcement". Nevertheless, he did not vote against any of the bills.

Only Rep. Jeff Flake (R-AZ) and Rep. Paul Broun (R-GA) voted against this bill.