New Florida law will keep child porn perps in dark for 90 days

Internet providers must delay tipping off child porn users to investigations

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - It will soon be harder for child pornographers and abusers to know their internet activities are being investigated by law enforcement. 

A new Florida law taking effect Oct. 1 will keep internet providers from tipping off suspected perps.

Big internet providers and cloud storage services tip off police when they spot child pornography or child abuse.

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

Ivey said it was his investigators who discovered the loophole in Florida law and fought to close it.

Starting Oct. 1, internet providers can’t tell a perp for 90 days that they're being investigated. If police need more time, they can have that delay extended in 90-day increments.

“There’s going to be evidence that’s preserved as a result,” Ivey said. “Potentially, victims will be saved as a result because some of these people actually have victims in their homes.”

Rep. Chris Latvala, R-Clearwater, who sponsored the bill, said in February that  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,” Latvala said.

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

“Their 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.

Ivey said as his team members posed for a photo that day, he told them they truly deserved the honor.

“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 told them.

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

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

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