New law will help authorities monitor child abusers on the internet

Published: Sep. 24, 2018 at 6:30 PM EDT
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By: Mike Vasilinda | Capitol News Service

September 24, 2018

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (CNS) -- It will soon be harder for child pornographers and abusers to know their internet activities are being monitored by law enforcement. A new law, effective October 1, will keep internet providers from tipping off suspected perpetrators.

Big internet providers and cloud storage services find porn or child abuse and then report it to police.

"And then, before we could start delving into it, they would notify the perps because they were worried about being sued," said Wayne Ivey, the Brevard County Sheriff.

It was Ivey's investigators who discovered and fought to close the loophole.

"There's going to be evidence that's preserved as a result. Potentially victims will be saved as a result because some of these people actually have victims in their homes," the sheriff said.

Clearwater Representative Chris Latvala said in February the loophole was motivated by greed.

"These companies are more concerned with their trade secrets or their products than they are doing the right thing," he said.

The task force members who discovered the loophole were honored at this year's Missing Children's Day.

“The innovative and persistent work has resulted in a significant, ongoing contribution to the safety of countless children," said Donna Uzell with the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.

“I was just telling them as we were taking the picture, I was telling them, 'Each and every day you guys do amazing things. But what you’ve done here will save the lives of innocent children for decades and decades to come,'" Ivey said.

Under the new law, internet providers can't tell a perp they're being investigated for 90 days. If police need more time, they can have a delay extended in 90-day increments.

The legislation received a unanimous vote every step of the legislative process.

Only a subpoena, not a search warrant, is required for police to look at internet accounts because the information is in the hands of the internet provider, not at the home or office of a suspect.

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