President Joe Biden has slashed funding for a Department of Justice initiative aimed at combating digital crimes against children, War Room can reveal.
The Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force Program (ICAC) – the target of these cuts – is a national network of 61 coordinated task forces comprised of over 5,400 federal, state, and local law enforcement" dedicated to investigating, prosecuting and developing effective responses to internet crimes against children.” One of the key areas of focus is human trafficking in addition to the sexual exploitation of children.
Despite operating as the leading entity combatting the sexual exploitation of children online, since President Joe Biden took office, the ICAC program has seen a reduction in its operating budget of millions of dollars.
In the last fiscal year under President Donald Trump, the program’s budget totaled $34.73 million before seeing a slight decrease in fiscal year 2021, coinciding with Biden’s takeover of the White House, to $34.68 million.
In the first full fiscal year under President Biden, the ICAC program budget was cut nearly $3.5 million to the newfound total of $31.2 million.
The downward spending trend is at odds with the ever-increasing trajectory of online content containing child exploitation. As outlined in an analysis published by comparitech:
"As we’ve already seen, in just nine months of 2022, Facebook had almost equaled 2021’s content removals for child exploitation. It was a similar story on Instagram (6.08 million pieces of content flagged from Q1-Q3 of 2022 compared to 8.38 million in 2021) and TikTok (140 million pieces of content flagged from Q1-Q3 of 2022 compared to 141.7 million in 2021).
Snapchat looked set to surpass 2021’s total with 201,527 accounts flagged for child sexual exploitation and abuse in the first half of 2022, compared to 317,243 flagged across all of 2021. Whereas, Discord’s Q1-Q3 figures for 2022 had already exceeded 2021’s totals (1.52 million accounts, servers, and pieces of content were flagged from Q1-Q3 of 2022, compared to 1.42 million in 2021).
LinkedIn’s figures saw a 636 percent increase. 226 pieces of child exploitation content were recorded by LinkedIn in 2021 compared to 1,663 in the first half of 2022 alone.”
The curious budget decrease comes amidst the Biden White House also removing "international sex trafficking or minors,” "domestic sex trafficking of minors,” and "child prostitution” from a DOJ website highlighting the agency’s areas of concern.