Senate Lawmakers Seek $5 Billion to Track Down Child Predators Without Compromising Encryption

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With the Senate back in session last week, Democratic lawmakers revealed new legislation aimed at drastically expanding the federal government’s resources dedicated to the targeting and prosecution of child predators, developing new technologies to identify child sexual abuse material online, and funding leading community organizations that work to prevent children from becoming victims.

In a nutshell, the Invest in Child Safety Act would create a new Office to Enforce and Protect Against Child Sexual Exploitation, which would manage a Child Sexual Exploitation Treatment, Support and Prevention Fund. The fund would contain $5 billion to be apportioned between 2021 and 2030 to a variety of agencies for programs or activities directed at addressing child sexual exploitation. The Act also makes a few minor changes to the law, including increasing the timeframe that authorities must act on reports about child abuse materials received from online platforms, before the platforms are required to delete those materials.

The bills chief author, Sen. Ron Wyden, credited reporting by the New York Times, with exposing what he called a “failure” by Congress and the White House “to respond to disgusting crimes against children that are shared online.” Chilling investigations by Times reporters Michael Keller and Gabriel Dance last year unveiled the failure of Washington and America’s tech companies to aggressively cut off the circulation of child sexual abuse material online, despite having the technical means to do so.

The bill, which also allots for funding to school-based mental health services, amends the existing law behind the CyberTipline, the nation’s central reporting system for child abuse content, managed by the nonprofit National Center for Missing & Exploited Children (NCMEC), doubling the allotted time companies can preserve digital evidence from 90 days to 180 days. The bill also requires entities reporting to the CyberTipline to preserve illicit material using only methods established by information security experts at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST).

The Invest in Child Safety Act would additionally lead to the hiring of “not less than 100” new FBI agents and investigators specifically assigned to developing cases against online predators. And it would double funding for various related programs, including the Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) task force, and the National Criminal Justice Training Center (NCJTC), which trains criminal justice professionals in the prosecution and prevention of child victimized cases.

Before it was introduced to the senate, the bill received endorsements from the National Children’s Alliance, the Child Welfare League of America, and the Family Online Safety Institute, as well as David Kaye, the United Nation’s Special Rapporteur on Promotion and Protection of Freedom of Expression.

“Law enforcement agencies at all levels in the United States are significantly under-resourced when it comes to investigating and prosecuting child sexual abuse material online, and only able to pursue a fraction of the cases referred to them,” the Open Technology Institute said in its endorsement. “The Invest in Child Safety Act would directly address this problem, providing meaningful resources that would equip law enforcement and the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children to more effectively combat this crisis and hold predators accountable.”

Hawley & Associates applauds this remedial legislative action, Congress, organizations, and individuals whose hard work contributes to making the world a safer place for children.

Life After Lock-down: Going Back into the Office

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With so many phrases and terms being thrown at us every day relating to COVID-19, it’s enough to keep our heads spinning for a while. The most prominent term being discussed is social distancing – the entire world now recognizes the importance of staying six feet apart from one another.  Even though our entire planet is going through this crisis together, we are all in very different stages of pandemic life. But as we begin to visualize life after COVID-19 and re-emerge into society again, we need to start thinking about the new normal and how we will adjust. The “six-feet rule” isn’t going away anytime soon and we must all come to terms with how critical it is to normalize this guideline into everyday life.

Government-mandated lock-down orders to help contain the spread of the virus have radically changed how and where people work, with millions switching from the office to the dining room and meetings moving to video conference. As restrictions are relaxed, offices are being redesigned to minimize transmission risk and prevent a second wave of coronavirus cases. Imagine one-way corridors, buffer zones around desks, and clear plastic screens to guard against coughs or sneezes becoming the new office standards after stay-at-home orders have been lifted.

International real estate company Cushman & Wakefield has come up with a workplace design concept to help initiate the new model of office life. The concept uses social distancing guidelines to keep areas around desks empty. A prototype in the company’s Amsterdam office shows clients how spaces can be newly configured. Changes could be hard to adapt to for workers who are used to the social interactions in modern open-plan offices, and research shows that the more isolation that employees experience, or perceive, has a negative impact on their satisfaction with work and overall mental well-being.

Employers are seeing the immense benefits of remote working during the pandemic and some companies, like Nationwide, have already taken the plunge to make it a part of their permanent work culture. Many companies are performing much better than they predicted at the beginning of the crisis, with employees stating they are getting more work done, feeling more productive, and managing a better work-life balance.

When and if you return from remote work, let’s acknowledge that there are big and small adjustments we can make to improve sanitation and safety in the workplace. While the full impact of COVID-19 on work and the workplace has yet to be determined, it is clear the pandemic’s lingering effects will leave a trail of uncertainty as we navigate a new normal. A silver living of our forced isolation is that is has given us a lot of time to think more strategically about our environments. Let’s use this time to make them better.

Spring Has Sprung! 1st Qtr. Hawley & Associates Newsletter!

Check out the first Hawley & Associates newsletter of 2018!  Happy Spring to everyone!

1st Qtr. Newsletter

 

Specialized Insurance Products for YOUTH AND FAMILY SERVICES & PROGRAMS!

Youth & Family ServicesThese organizations provide resources and support for children, youth and families throughout the community. They can be quite diverse in the services and programs they offer and may include, but not limited to; drug & alcohol prevention programs, as well as mental/behavioral health and at-risk youth programs. Some may also offer a group home, residential treatment or transitional housing options.

Hawley & Associates is here to help guide you through the tangled web called insurance. We have the knowledge and experience in these specialized programs and understand your risks and exposures. We speak your language! Contact us today and discover the Hawley difference!

 

Call Congress to Pass the Adoption Incentives Program Reauthorization

Hawley and Associates would like to pass this information on regarding the Adoption Incentive Program Reauthorization. Please feel free to help support the passing of these bills which affect adoption and foster care.

Concern: Congress is dragging their feet to pass the bipartisan Adoption Incentives reauthorization and the Family Connections Grants (which have now expired). The delay has already caused us to lose the funding that was found for the Family Connections Grants to be extended.

Action: Call your U.S. Senators and Representative. Call the Capitol switchboard to be connected, dial 202-224-3121.

Message: Congress should finish their work to extend the bipartisan Adoption
Incentives and Family Connection Grants program.

Talking points:
• The Adoption Incentive Program and the Family Connections Grants expired October 1st 2013.
• Congress and the Senate especially must pass this reauthorization NOW.
• In October 2013 the House of Representatives unanimously passed H.R. 3205 the bipartisan bill to reauthorize the Adoption Incentive Program and the Family Connections Grants.
• The $15 million annually for three years for the Family Connections Grants has been lost with the recent FY2014 budget agreement that Congress passed in December 2013.
• Both the House bill and the Senate bill found offsets to pay for theses grants. Now Congress needs to find a new way to pay for the Family Connections Grants.
• This is a concern because current grantees are uncertain if they will receive their 2014 funding in time to continue existing programs under the grants administered by the federal Children’s Bureau.
• If this is not reauthorized soon, we are concerned that the Adoption Incentive Program funding will not be seen as important or needed to the appropriators when completing FY2015 appropriation bills.
• The program has always historically been extended in a bipartisan fashion.
• Congress should stop dragging their feet and extend the bipartisan Adoption Incentives and Family Connection Grants program.
Background information:
• The Adoption Incentives Fund rewards states for increasing adoptions from foster care.
• Both the House and Senate bills to reauthorize the Adoption Incentives Fund expand the incentive to recognize kinship care placements in addition to adoption.
• The House bill also shifts the awards on rates rather than just numbers of children adopted, since some states have reduced their number of children in foster care.
• The Family Connections Grants are discretionary funds that are awarded to the filed for: kinship navigator programs, family group decision making, family finding and substance abuse treatment for families in child welfare.
• The Senate coupled two unrelated child welfare bills with their version of the Adoption Incentive Program reauthorization and it has only passed out of the Senate Finance Committee (S.1870).
• The Adoption Incentives Fund and the Family Connections grants are funded differently
o The Adoption Incentives Fund receives an annual appropriations.
o The Family Connection Grants receive mandatory funds, which means funding is written into the law and it requires Congress to pay for the funding at the time it is reauthorized.