The Iowa Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force (ICAC) is a multi-jurisdictional task force that investigates and prosecutes individuals who use the Internet to exploit children.
The task force is funded by a grant from the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention and administered through the Iowa Department of Public Safety; Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation.
Currently, the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation/ICAC Task Force works collaboratively with Federal, State, and Local jurisdictions on ICAC associated investigations. This multi-jurisdictional approach to law enforcement is extremely successful.
The Internet clearly influences how children discover and interact with the world around them. Unfortunately, cyberspace is not always a safe place for youth to visit. Some sex offenders use the anonymity of the Internet to prey on vulnerable children and teenagers, whose Internet access is often unsupervised. Their activities include exchanging child pornography or seeking victims online. This heightened activity presents both a significant threat to the health and safety of young people and a formidable challenge for law enforcement.
In response to this problem Congress, through the FY 1998 Justice Appropriations Act, directed the US Department of Justice, Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) to create a national network of "State and local law enforcement cyber units to investigate child sexual exploitation."
The purpose of the ICAC Task Force program is to help State and local law enforcement agencies increase their collective capacities in computer forensics, technical investigation, community outreach and education, and victim services.
The Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation receives Federal funding to operate the Iowa Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force (Iowa ICAC), with the mission to safeguard our children from Internet crime through a program of community education, aggressive investigation, and effective prosecution.
The Iowa ICAC Task Force formed collaborative relationships with local Iowa and Federal law enforcement agencies to build a circle of protection around our children to safeguard them from Internet predators and assist those agencies in providing an effective investigative response to online child exploitation.
Iowa ICAC is one of 61 ICAC Task Forces that have been developed nationwide.
Child Pornography on the Internet has become an ever-increasing issue of importance because of the growth of the Internet. The Internet knows no national boundaries, which poses real challenges to law enforcement in trying to protect minors from illegal or harmful influences.
Many factors of Internet technology have proven to be very attractive to offenders. The Internet allows them to share images and information about children and to make contact with children. These offenders are present on children's chat rooms, frequently pretending to be children themselves.
Some offenders go further and actively try to arrange meetings with children, often going to extraordinary efforts and incurring large travel and other expenses- and, sadly, some of them succeed.
How Can Children Be Victimized on the Internet?
Online child sexual exploitation involves three primary activities:
- Online arrangements for the exchange, sale or purchase of child pornography. The actual exchange or delivery occurs through the mail or in hand-to-hand exchanges, e-mail, FTP, and other electronic means.
- Arrangements between adults seeking sexual access to children, and adults willing to provide and/or trade children for sexual purposes.
- Adults seeking sexual contact with children establish "friendships" with children online. Having "befriended" a child online, the offender then attempts to arrange a face-to-face meeting and, ultimately, the sexual exploitation of the child.
The scope of the problem is much larger than anyone had anticipated, and is growing so exponentially as to be impossible to track.