Attorney General William Barr Delivers Video Remarks for the Virtual National Law Enforcement Training on Child Exploitation

Remarks as Prepared for Delivery

Good morning, the Department of Justice is pleased to once again host the National Law Enforcement Training on Child Exploitation. 

Child exploitation is one of the most horrendous crimes affecting the most vulnerable members of society.  As law enforcement officials, we have a duty to protect our children from these abuses, both in the physical and online worlds.  Ongoing training on the newest forms of child exploitation is an important part of that duty.  I thank all of you for your commitment and your contribution to this important effort. 

This year’s training includes nearly 100 virtual workshops discussing the latest topics, tools, and technology for investigating and prosecuting online and related crimes against children.  The training is part of the broader effort of our Internet Crimes Against Children task forces, which have had great success since their creation in 1998.

To date, task forces have reviewed more than 1 million complaints of child exploitation, which have resulted in the arrest of more than 100,000 individuals.  In addition, since the program’s inception, more than 762,000 law enforcement officers, prosecutors, and other professionals have been trained on techniques to investigate and prosecute internet crimes against children.

The task force program is complemented by DOJ’s Project Safe Childhood.  PSC is a nationwide initiative to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse.  Led by the U.S. Attorneys’ Offices and the Criminal Division’s Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section, PSC coordinates federal, state and local resources to better locate, apprehend, and prosecute individuals who exploit children via the Internet.  PSC also works to identify and rescue victims.  Under PSC, federal prosecutions have increased annually for 11 straight years.  Overall, the number of federal production cases have almost tripled, from 218 cases initiated against 239 defendants in FY 2008, to 635 cases initiated against 674 defendants in FY 2019.

This work is more important now than ever.  Because of the COVID-19 pandemic and school closings, children are spending more time online.  The advancement of technology has provided us many ways to stay connected and learn remotely.  Unfortunately, the same technology also provides predators with pathways back into our homes and can be used by strangers to target our children for sexual exploitation.  In addition, because of the spread of warrant-proof encryption and anonymizing technology, it is harder to detect and investigate these crimes. 

Our determined work has yielded important successes.  For example, last year the Department announced the takedown of the largest Dark Web commercial website dedicated to child sexual abuse material.  The site administrator, along with 337 other persons across the United States and on five continents, were arrested as a result of this investigation. Most importantly, at least 23 minor victims who were being actively abused by the users of the site were rescued.  The operation resulted in the seizure of approximately eight terabytes of child sexual exploitation videos, which is one of the largest seizures of its kind.  Forty-five percent of the videos currently analyzed contain new images that have never been seen before.  This Dark Web site, which boasted over one million downloads of child exploitation videos by users, was also among the first of its kind to monetize child exploitation videos through the use of cryptocurrency.

I know this work is not easy, especially when resources are diverted to other law-enforcement needs.  But your work is essential.  Whether you are a law enforcement officer, prosecutor, forensic analyst, or victim support personnel, you are helping to protect the most vulnerable in our society.  Thank you for your commitment and contribution to this worthy mission on behalf of the American people. 

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    Along with the rest of America, the Judiciary confronted significant challenges in 2020, led by the need to meet its constitutional obligations amid a deadly global pandemic. Federal courts learned to keep operations going, despite restricted access to courth­ouses, with a quickly evolving reliance on technology and the resilience of a 30,000-strong workforce, according to the Annual Report of the Director Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts (AO).
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  • Justice Department Awards Over $54 Million to Support Wellness and Safety of Law Enforcement Officers
    In Crime News
    The Department of Justice’s Office of Justice Programs today announced it has awarded funding totaling over $54 million to provide services that protect officers and improve overall public safety. OJP’s Bureau of Justice Assistance awarded grants to law enforcement departments, local jurisdictions, and training and technical assistance organizations throughout the United States.
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  • Former City Officials Sentenced for Accepting Bribes in Exchange for Cannabis Dispensary Permit
    In Crime News
    Two California men were each sentenced today to two years in prison for accepting bribes in return for a guarantee of a city permit to open a commercial cannabis dispensary.
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  • Department Press Briefing – March 2, 2021
    In Crime Control and Security News
    Ned Price, Department [Read More…]
  • Justice Department Settles with Texas-Based Industrial Contractor to Resolve Immigration-Related Discrimination Claim
    In Crime News
    The Department of Justice announced today that it reached a settlement with Tecon Services Inc. (Tecon), an industrial insulation, fireproofing and painting contractor based in Texas. The settlement resolves claims that Tecon discriminated against a naturalized U.S. citizen based on her Venezuelan national origin by rejecting her U.S. passport and requiring other documents to prove her work authorization, in violation of the anti-discrimination provision of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA).
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  • Secretary Antony J. Blinken At the Atlantic Council’s Front Page Pride Edition Virtual Conversation with Jonathan Capehart on “Pressing for Equality: Engaging on LGBTQI Issues Around the World”
    In Crime Control and Security News
    Antony J. Blinken, [Read More…]
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    In Travel
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  • Owner of Sport Supplement Company Sentenced for Unlawful Distribution of Steroid-Like Drugs
    In Crime News
    A North Carolina sport supplement company owner was sentenced to one year and one day in federal prison after pleading guilty to introducing unapproved new drugs into interstate commerce, the Department of Justice announced.
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  • Electricity Grid Resilience: Climate Change Is Expected to Have Far-reaching Effects and DOE and FERC Should Take Actions
    In U.S GAO News
    What GAO Found Climate change is expected to have far-reaching effects on the electricity grid that could cost billions and could affect every aspect of the grid from generation, transmission, and distribution to demand for electricity, according to several reports GAO reviewed. The type and extent of these effects on the grid will vary by geographic location and other factors. For example, reports GAO reviewed stated that more frequent droughts and changing rainfall patterns may adversely affect hydroelectricity generation in Alaska and the Northwest and Southwest regions of the United States. Further, transmission capacity may be reduced or distribution lines damaged during increasing wildfire activity in some regions due to warmer temperatures and drier conditions. Moreover, climate change effects on the grid could cost utilities and customers billions, including the costs of power outages and infrastructure damage. Examples of Climate Change Effects on the Electricity Grid Since 2014, the Department of Energy (DOE) and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) have taken actions to enhance the resilience of the grid. For example, in 2015, DOE established a partnership with 18 utilities to plan for climate change. In 2018, FERC collected information from grid operators on grid resilience and their risks to hazards such as extreme weather. Nevertheless, opportunities exist for DOE and FERC to take additional actions to enhance grid resilience to climate change. For example, DOE identified climate change as a risk to energy infrastructure, including the grid, but it does not have an overall strategy to guide its efforts. GAO's Disaster Resilience Framework states that federal efforts can focus on risk reduction by creating resilience goals and linking those goals to an overarching strategy. Developing and implementing a department-wide strategy that defines goals and measures progress could help prioritize DOE's climate resilience efforts to ensure that resources are targeted effectively. Regarding FERC, it has not taken steps to identify or assess climate change risks to the grid and, therefore, is not well positioned to determine the actions needed to enhance resilience. Risk management involves identifying and assessing risks to understand the likelihood of impacts and their associated consequences. By doing so, FERC could then plan and implement appropriate actions to respond to the risks and achieve its objective of promoting resilience. Why GAO Did This Study According to the U.S. Global Change Research Program, changes in the earth's climate are under way and expected to increase, posing risks to the electricity grid that may affect the nation's economic and national security. Annual costs of weather-related power outages total billions of dollars and may increase with climate change, although resilience investments could help address potential effects, according to the research program. Private companies own most of the electricity grid, but the federal government plays a significant role in promoting grid resilience—the ability to adapt to changing conditions; withstand potentially disruptive events; and, if disrupted, to rapidly recover. DOE, the lead agency for grid resilience efforts, conducts research and provides information and technical assistance to industry. FERC reviews mandatory grid reliability standards. This testimony summarizes GAO's report on grid resilience to climate change. Specifically, the testimony discusses (1) potential climate change effects on the electricity grid; and (2) actions DOE and FERC have taken since 2014 to enhance electricity grid resilience to climate change effects, and additional actions these agencies could take. GAO reviewed reports and interviewed agency officials and 55 relevant stakeholders.
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  • State Department Terrorist Designations of HASM and Its Leaders and Maintenance of PIJ FTO Designation
    In Crime Control and Security News
    Office of the [Read More…]
  • Justice Department Settles with Gates Chili Central School District to Ensure Equal Access for Students with Service Animals
    In Crime News
    The Justice Department announced today that it reached an agreement with the Gates Chili Central School District in Rochester, New York, to resolve the department’s lawsuit alleging disability discrimination in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
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  • Maryland Tax Preparer Sentenced to Prison for Conspiring to Defraud the IRS
    In Crime News
    A Maryland tax return preparer was sentenced today to 30 months in prison for conspiracy to defraud the United States and aiding in the preparation of a false tax return.
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  • Yemen Travel Advisory
    In Travel
    Do not travel to Yemen [Read More…]
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    In Travel
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  • Technology Assessment Design Handbook
    In U.S GAO News
    The Technology Assessment (TA) Design Handbook identifies tools and approaches GAO staff and others can consider in the design of robust and rigorous technology assessments. The handbook underscores the importance of TA design (Chapter 1), outlines the process of designing TAs (Chapter 2), and describes approaches for mitigating select TA design and implementation challenges (Chapter 3). While the primary audience of this handbook is GAO staff, other organizations may also find portions of this handbook useful as they consider or conduct TAs. This is an update to the handbook published in December 2019, based on the experiences of GAO teams and a review of relevant literature and comments submitted by external experts and the public between December 2019 and December 2020. The handbook identifies three general design stages, as shown in the figure below. The handbook also highlights seven cross-cutting considerations for designing TAs: the iterative nature of TA design, congressional and policymakers' interests, resources, independence, engaging internal and external stakeholders, potential challenges, and communication strategy. In addition, the handbook provides a high-level process for developing policy options, as a tool for analyzing and articulating a range of possible actions a policymaker could consider that may enhance the benefits or mitigate the challenges of a technology. Steps in developing policy options include, as applicable: determining the potential policy objective; gathering evidence; identifying possible policy options and the relevant dimensions along which to analyze them; analyzing policy options; and presenting the results of the analysis. Summary of Key Stages of Technology Assessment Design We found that GAO TAs can use a variety of design approaches and methods. The handbook includes TA design and methodology examples, along with example objectives commonly found in GAO TAs, such as: describe a technology, assess opportunities and challenges of a technology, and assess policy implications or options. For example, some GAO TAs include an objective related to describing the status and feasibility of a technology, which GAO teams have addressed by using methodologies such as expert panels, interviews, literature and document reviews, site visits, and determining the technology readiness level. Also included in the handbook are examples of TA design and implementation challenges, along with possible mitigation strategies. We identified four general categories of challenges: (1) ensuring that the design and implementation of TAs result in useful products for Congress and other policymakers; (2) determining the policy objective and measuring potential effects; (3) researching and communicating complicated issues; and (4) engaging relevant stakeholders. For example, allowing sufficient time for writing, review, and any needed revisions is one potential mitigation strategy that could help teams write simply and clearly about technical subjects and ensure that the design and implementation of TAs result in useful products for Congress and other policymakers. In 2019, GAO created the Science, Technology Assessment, and Analytics team to expand its work on cutting-edge science and technology issues, and to provide oversight, insight, and foresight for science and technology. TAs can be used to strengthen decision-making, enhance knowledge and awareness, and provide early insights into the potential effects of technology. Systematically designing a TA can enhance its quality, credibility, and usefulness; ensure independence of the analysis; and ensure effective use of resources. Under Comptroller General Authority, we developed this handbook by generally following the format of the 2012 GAO methodology transfer paper, Designing Evaluations. Below is a summary of the approach we used to affirm and document TA design steps and considerations for this handbook. Reviewed select GAO documents, including Designing Evaluations (GAO-12-208G), published GAO TAs, select GAO products using policy analysis approaches to present policy options, and other GAO reports Reviewed select Office of Technology Assessment reports Reviewed select Congressional Research Service reports Reviewed select English-language literature regarding TAs and related to development and analysis of policy options Consulted with external experts and performed outreach, including holding an expert meeting to gather input on TA design, soliciting comments from external experts who contributed to GAO TAs published since 2015, and soliciting comments from the public Reviewed experiences of GAO teams that have successfully assessed and incorporated policy options into GAO products and TA design, including challenges to TA design and implementation and possible solutions GAO is not making any recommendations. For more information, contact Timothy M. Persons or Karen L. Howard at (202) 512-6888 or personst@gao.gov or howardk@gao.gov.
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    In Travel
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