STATEMENTS ON INTRODUCED BILLS AND JOINT RESOLUTIONS
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By Mr. SANTORUM:
S. 3432. A bill to protect children from exploitation by adults over the Internet, and for other purposes; to the Committee on the Judiciary.
Mr. SANTORUM. Mr. President, over the past few years, we have heard the tragic stories of how sexual predators have targeted children in our states. We have seen troubling headlines from Pennsylvania and across the country, and the frequency seems to be increasing rather than decreasing. The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children in partnership with the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, U.S. Secret Service, U.S. Postal Inspection Service, state and local law enforcement, and Internet Crimes Against Children Task Forces operates the CyberTipline. The number of referrals to the ICAC task forces has increased from 2,002 referrals in January-March 2005 to 3,392 referrals in January-March 2006. Additionally, the prosecutions in child pornography and child abuse cases have increased nearly every year since 1995.
Recently Congress has heard disturbing and saddening accounts of how these predators have used the Internet to exploit our children. As a father of six, I am keenly aware of the dangers to our children and the concerns of parents across Pennsylvania and the Nation. In February, the Department of Justice launched Project Safe Childhood, a initiative to ``combat the proliferation of technology-facilitated sexual exploitation crimes against children.''
``Project Safe Childhood'' has five main purposes. First, it seeks to integrate Federal, State, and local efforts to investigate and prosecute child exploitation cases including partnerships by each U.S. Attorney with each Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force in their district, other Federal, State, and local law enforcement, and community and faith-based organizations to develop district-specific strategic plans to combat and prosecute child exploitation crimes. Second, the Project allows major case coordination by the Department of Justice or other appropriate Federal agency. Third, it increases Federal involvement in child exploitation cases by providing additional investigative tools and increased penalties available under Federal law. Fourth, the Project provides increased training of Federal, State, and local law enforcement regarding the investigation and prosecution of computer-facilitated crimes against children. Finally, it promotes community awareness and educational programs to raise national awareness about the threat of online sexual predators and to provide information to families on how to report possible violations.
According to recent Congressional testimony from Alice S. Fisher, Assistant U.S. Attorney in charge of the Criminal Division, and from William W. Mercer, Principle Associate Deputy Attorney General noted, this initiative is working.
On May 17, 2006, the Department of Justice released a document that outlines the need for this project, an overview of the program and guides for how law enforcement, parents, teachers, and communities can come together to implement this program effectively. While I am encouraged by the DOJ actions to raise the profile and enforcement through Project Safe Childhood--and appreciate all that many at the Department of Justice and the State and local levels are doing to catch and prosecute these predators--I am concerned that this program does not have the legislative authorization or dedicated funding that it needs to accomplish its goal of protecting our children.
I intend to work to help the Department of Justice fully implement and expand this initiative, therefore, I am introducing the Project Safe Childhood Authorization Act. Specifically, the bill will authorize and expand Project Safe Childhood; add new elements regarding child exploitation crimes that have been requested by the Department of Justice to strengthen the requirements to effectively report child pornography, require warning labels on commercial Websites that contain sexually explicit material, and prohibit the embedding of words or images on a Website in order to deceive individuals into viewing obscenity or material harmful to minors; increase penalties for registered sex offenders, child sex trafficking and sexual abuse, and other child exploitation crimes; create Children's Safety Online Awareness Campaigns; and authorize grants for online child safety programs.
The bill authorizes $18 million for fiscal year 2007 for the initial implementation of Project Safe Childhood, and up to $29 million for the expansion of the program for fiscal year 2007, and such sums as may be necessary for each of the 5 succeeding fiscal years.
I know all of us--particularly those of us with children--want to know how to keep our children safe, and want to know that anyone that endangers or harms our children will be punished. I am glad to be here to take this important step in protecting our children. I hope my colleagues will agree with me and we will pass the Project Safe Childhood Authorization Act this year.
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By Mr. SANTORUM:
S. 3455. A bill to establish a program to transfer surplus computers of Federal agencies to schools, nonprofit community-based educational organizations, and families of members of the Armed Forces who are deployed, and for other purposes; to the Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs.
Mr. SANTORUM. Mr. President, I rise today to introduce a bill which is intended to ensure that more surplus government computers are put to good use in our schools and by families of deployed service members.
Each year, it is becoming more and more evident that, especially for our youth, computer knowledge is essential for success. While many Americans have computers at home, there are still many Americans who do not have that easy access to computer technology. In addition, not all of our schools have or can afford up-to-date computer technology to aid their students in their learning. This bill is intended to bridge this gap.
It has been estimated that each week, the Federal Government disposes of 10,000 computers. Thanks in part to Executive Order 12999, which was issued in 1996, some of these computers are placed in schools that would otherwise not have access to this technology. The Executive order directs that federal agencies shall safeguard and identify potentially educationally useful federal equipment that is no longer needed or declared surplus. This equipment shall then be transferred directly or through the Government Services Administration Computers for Learning program to public and private schools and nonprofit organizations, including community-based educational organizations. Schools and nonprofits in enterprise communities or empowerment zones are prioritized in receiving these computers.
I have been pleased to be able to work through the related program in the Senate to place excess computers in several Pennsylvania schools where they are being put to good use. Unfortunately, I have heard from those working in Pennsylvania to obtain such computers that not enough of them are getting through to schools. They are experiencing increased difficulty in maintaining the number and quality of computers they were previously able to get from the government for refurbishment and donation. In some cases, hard drives are being needlessly destroyed before they are turned over.
One of the problems that has prevented schools from getting and using these computers is that many times they are not able to be immediately put into use by the school. Schools may not have the technical ability or storage space to take computers directly from the government if they need maintenance before they can be placed into service. It has been estimated that if schools get the computers directly from the government, only 10 percent can be put into use. However, if they are first refurbished, 40 percent can be used.
The hope is that this legislation would result in federal agencies making more surplus computers available for schools by codifying the previous Executive order. The bill would also allow computers to go directly to nonprofits for refurbishing before going to the school, making is easier for more schools to participate in the program. Currently, a school has to take title to the computer and then can transfer it to a nonprofit refurbisher to be fixed up, an additional step for them. This bill would allow nonprofit organizations like Computers for Schools that can refurbish computers at low-cost to participate in the process, getting computers ready to use and sending them out to schools where they last three more years, enabling more children to learn and profit by them. To prevent the needless destruction of hard drives, the bill also references federal standards on how to completely and securely erase hard drives without destroying them.
Lastly, this bill includes language that would make it possible to distribute these computers to the families of deployed service men and women who do not have a computer in their homes so that they can stay in better touch with their family members while they are fighting for our country.
I believe this legislation is an important step to help ensure that surplus federal computers are put to good use by allowing more of our youth to have access to computers in school. I am hopeful that this legislation will be enacted into law.