Friday, July 14, 2006

 

The Wall Street Journal editorial: Hockey Stick Hokum

July 14, 2006; Page A12

It is routine these days to read in newspapers or hear -- almost anywhere the subject of climate change comes up -- that the 1990s were the "warmest decade in a millennium" and that 1998 was the warmest year in the last 1,000.

This assertion has become so accepted that it is often recited without qualification, and even without giving a source for the "fact." But a report soon to be released by the House Energy and Commerce Committee by three independent statisticians underlines yet again just how shaky this "consensus" view is, and how recent its vintage.

The claim originates from a 1999 paper by paleoclimatologist Michael Mann. Prior to Mr. Mann's work, the accepted view, as embodied in the U.N.'s 1990 report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), was that the world had undergone a warming period in the Middle Ages, followed by a mid-millennium cold spell and a subsequent warming period -- the current one. That consensus, as shown in the first of the two IPCC-provided graphs nearby, held that the Medieval warm period was considerably warmer than the present day.

Mr. Mann's 1999 paper eliminated the Medieval warm period from the history books, with the result being the bottom graph you see here. It's a man-made global-warming evangelist's dream, with a nice, steady temperature oscillation that persists for centuries followed by a dramatic climb over the past century. In 2001, the IPCC replaced the first graph with the second in its third report on climate change, and since then it has cropped up all over the place. Al Gore uses it in his movie.


The trouble is that there's no reason to believe that Mr. Mann, or his "hockey stick" graph of global temperature changes, is right. Questions were raised about Mr. Mann's paper almost as soon as it was published. In 2003, two Canadians, Ross McKitrick and Steven McIntyre, published an article in a peer-reviewed journal showing that Mr. Mann's methodology could produce hockey sticks from even random, trendless data.

The report commissioned by the House Energy Committee, due to be released today, backs up and reinforces that conclusion. The three researchers -- Edward J. Wegman of George Mason University, David W. Scott of Rice University and Yasmin H. Said of Johns Hopkins University -- are not climatologists; they're statisticians. Their task was to look at Mr. Mann's methods from a statistical perspective and assess their validity. Their conclusion is that Mr. Mann's papers are plagued by basic statistical errors that call his conclusions into doubt. Further, Professor Wegman's report upholds the finding of Messrs. McIntyre and McKitrick that Mr. Mann's methodology is biased toward producing "hockey stick" shaped graphs.

Mr. Wegman and his co-authors are careful to point out that doubts about temperatures in the early part of the millennium do not call into question more-recent temperature increases. But as you can see looking at these two charts, it's all about context. In the first, the present falls easily within a range of natural historical variation. The bottom chart looks alarming and discontinuous with the past, which is why global-warming alarmists have adopted it so eagerly.

In addition to debunking the hockey stick, Mr. Wegman goes a step further in his report, attempting to answer why Mr. Mann's mistakes were not exposed by his fellow climatologists. Instead, it fell to two outsiders, Messrs. McIntyre and McKitrick, to uncover the errors.

Mr. Wegman brings to bear a technique called social-network analysis to examine the community of climate researchers. His conclusion is that the coterie of most frequently published climatologists is so insular and close-knit that no effective independent review of the work of Mr. Mann is likely. "As analyzed in our social network," Mr. Wegman writes, "there is a tightly knit group of individuals who passionately believe in their thesis." He continues: "However, our perception is that this group has a self-reinforcing feedback mechanism and, moreover, the work has been sufficiently politicized that they can hardly reassess their public positions without losing credibility."

In other words, climate research often more closely resembles a mutual-admiration society than a competitive and open-minded search for scientific knowledge. And Mr. Wegman's social-network graphs suggest that Mr. Mann himself -- and his hockey stick -- is at the center of that network.

Mr. Wegman's report was initially requested by the House Energy Committee because some lawmakers were concerned that major decisions about our economy could be made on the basis of the dubious research embodied in the hockey stick. Some of the more partisan scientists and journalists howled that this was an attempt at intimidation. But as Mr. Wegman's paper shows, Congress was right to worry; his conclusions make "consensus" look more like group-think. And the dismissive reaction of the climate-research establishment to the McIntyre-McKitrick critique of the hockey stick confirms that impression.
 

Not Every Malpractice Claim Requires a Lawsuit, Congress Told

Barton: ‘System Obsessed with Blame’

WASHINGTON – Medical lawsuits sap time, money and efficiency from the health care system and the court-based medical liability process often fails to produce fair and consistent results for injured patients, experts told Congress on Thursday.

“The status quo fails to deliver,” said U.S. Rep. Joe Barton, R-Texas, chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, during a Health Subcommittee hearing on innovative medical liability solutions. “Patients must often endure years of long, drawn-out litigation before receiving compensation for their injuries. When compensation finally arrives, lawyers’ fees and expert witness fees often take the lion’s share of the award.”

The House has tried for several years to cap lawsuits, but the legislation dies in the Senate. Experts said there are other ways to reform the medical liability system while ensuring that injured patients still have options for fair compensation.

Some witnesses proposed a “health court” that would rely on judgments from neutral medical experts, instead of dueling expert witnesses that are common in liability trials. Another proposal encourages parties to settle malpractice claims before they go to trial.

Lawsuits often produce skewed results for patients, said Dr. Michelle Mello, Harvard University associate professor of health policy and law. Only 5 percent of patients injured in the hospital ever file liability claims, and of those that do, fewer than half receive compensation, she said.

“There is no denying the fact there is a medical liability crisis in this country,” said U.S. Rep. Nathan Deal, R-Ga., Health Subcommittee chairman. “I do not need to repeat the staggering statistics about the astronomical rates of increase in the cost of medical liability insurance over the past few years or talk about the tens of billions of dollars wasted each year due to frivolous lawsuits and doctors forced to practice defensive medicine in order for us all to recognize that we have a legitimate crisis on our hands that must be addressed as soon as possible.”

Some worried that patients would lose the right to a jury trial. But Mello said studies showed that juries are reluctant to award compensation to patients. Fewer than one in four cases that go to a jury result in awards for the patient, while 61 percent of cases resolved out of court include compensation for the patient, she said.

Under a health court, judges trained on medical topics would rely on neutral experts to decide medical liability claims, witnesses said. The health court would include an appeal system that includes review by the standard court system, Mello said. Witnesses also said a health court would be similar to the system used to resolve workers compensation claims, which also bypasses juries.

The American Bar Association didn’t support the concept of health courts, instead favoring expanded use of dispute resolution and arbitration methods already used by courts, said Cheryl Niro, an incoming member of the ABA’s Standing Committee on Medical Professional Liability.

Health courts would add another level of bureaucracy to the court system, she said, while dispute resolution panels are already part of a court system with a simple, direct appeal process. Also, Niro said a health court couldn’t function like the workers compensation system because injured workers don’t have to prove fault, while injured patients still would.

A health court should also rely on a standard of “avoidability,” which is broader than the current standard of “negligence,” said Paul Barringer, general counsel for Common Good. Under this standard, only injuries that could have been avoided are eligible for compensation. More injured patients would receive compensation under this system, he said, while there is less emphasis on placing blame on individual health care providers. Witnesses said studies showed most medical errors are caused by flaws in the health care system, not through “bad apple” doctors.

“The current liability system is obsessed with finding somebody to blame,” Barton noted. “The one holding the scalpel or the last one to touch the patient when things went wrong is the automatic target. It seems to me that we are missing the real problem and that we are not any safer for it.”

University of Virginia Law Professor Jeffrey O’Connell touted the “early offer” proposal, which will let doctors offer to compensate injured patients before the case is taken to court.

Under this system, doctors accused of malpractice could offer to pay the patient economic and other damages. If the patient refuses the offer, they still have a right to take the doctor to court, O’Connell said, however, the case must then be proved under the stricter “gross negligence” standard.

“The present system protects everybody but those who need it,” O’Connell said. Those without health insurance who sue are essentially handed a “lottery ticket,” with a one-in-four chance of collecting, and not until six years later, he said.

One witness said that in many cases, a simple apology and explanation could avoid many hours of litigation. Often after injury, doctors and hospital administrators won’t talk with the patient for fear of that conversation being used against them in court. Margaret VanAmringe, vice president of public policy and government relations for the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations, said that “there is evidence that years of expensive and painful litigation ensued, when many families and patients are only looking for empathy and seeking answers.”

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

 

Committee OKs CFIUS Reform Bill On Bipartisan Voice Vote

WASHINGTON - Legislation to repair the sputtering process by which government officials review the national security aspects of major foreign investments was approved with broad bipartisan support in the House Energy and Commerce Committee Wednesday.

The action follows proposals by China to buy an American oil company and from a Dubai firm to own and operate major ports in the U.S. Critics called the proposals threats to American security, and both ideas collapsed under the weight of public scrutiny.

"I want more foreign investment in America, not less, but I do not want the kind that would threaten our national security," Chairman Joe Barton, R-Texas, said.

He pointed out that the organization of department heads which permits or rejects certain investment proposals - the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States, or CFIUS - "used to be nearly anonymous."

H.R. 5337, which was authored by U.S. Rep. Roy Blunt, R-Mo., amends the Defense Production Act of 1950 to provide new criteria and processes for CFIUS to evaluate proposed transactions involving foreign investment in U.S. corporations.

Committee lawmakers approved by voice vote an amendment that eliminated the CFIUS vice-chair position, which H.R. 5337 would have created. The amendment also would designate the secretary of commerce as the CFIUS chair. Members of both parties were concerned about the Homeland Security secretary becoming the permanent vice-chair.

"It is not clear to me why the newest member of the CFIUS process is better suited to evaluate the nature of these transactions than an agency, such as Commerce, that has been involved since the beginning," said Barton.

CFIUS attracted recent attention with its approval of the Dubai Ports World purchase of London-based Peninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation Co. Under the sale, DP World took over a U.S. subsidiary with operations at ports including New York, Miami and New Orleans. After lawmakers opposed DP World running American port terminals, the company announced plans to sell its U.S. operations.

And last July, a bid for Unocal by CNOOC, in which the Chinese government has a 70 percent stake, led the House and Senate conference committee on the Energy Policy Act of 2005 to require a 120-day study on the U.S. security implications of a purchase by a Chinese company before CFUIS could begin its formal review.

At Tuesday's hearing, the four witnesses were all supportive of H.R. 5337, saying that it improved transparency and congressional oversight over CFIUS, though some had further recommendations for the bill.

Douglas Holtz-Eakin with the Council on Foreign Relations echoed the concern about the newly minted vice-chair position.

"H.R. 5337 also designates Homeland Security to be the vice-chair of CFIUS, which raises the larger issue of the role of homeland security in national security reviews. A danger is setting a standard for national security that is either overly broad or indistinct," Holtz-Eakin said. "I believe that homeland security should be seen as an integral part of the traditional focus on national security and not as a separate, new or elevated consideration. From this perspective, the Department of Homeland Security has operational roles that contribute to national security."

U.S. Rep. Mike Rogers, R-Mich. agreed at the hearing that it was time to update the law regarding CFIUS. "We in Congress need to carefully balance the need for proper security actions with legitimate need for foreign investment in the United States," Rogers said. "The world has changed. We need CFIUS to change with it."

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

 

Barton: Congress Must Strike Right Balance In Keeping Children Safe on the Internet

WASHINGTON - U.S. Rep. Joe Barton, R-Texas, chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, made the following statement today during the Telecommunications and the Internet subcommittee hearing entitled "H.R. 5319, the Deleting Online Predators Act of 2006."

"Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I want to extend a personal welcome to my good friend, personal friend of long standing, the attorney general of Texas, Greg Abbott. Glad to have you here, General. We appreciate you being willing to testify on this small panel of seven other people. We appreciate your humility and we certainly appreciate your service to the state of Texas and with extension, some of the things you're doing for the citizens of our entire country.

"We're here today to have a legislative hearing on H.R. 5319, the Deleting Online Predators Act of 2006. It has been authored by Congressman Fitzpatrick who is also with us here on the dais. I'd like to welcome some of our witnesses who have testified before Mr. Whitfield's subcommittee, who has been holding a series of hearings on this problem. We have Mr. Chris Kelly from Facebook and we have Ms. Parry Aftab from WebSafety.org. They've already participated in Mr. Whitfield's hearings and we are glad to have you hear for the legislative hearing. We were not able to get a representative of MySpace to testify at today's hearing, which I think is unfortunate.

"The Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee has been holding a series of hearings to investigate the sexual exploitation of children on the Internet. These hearings have focused on the growing Internet child pornography trade and the tools that sexual predators use to victimize our children. We've also tried to determine what, if anything, is being done, or can be done, to find, prosecute and convict the child predators in our society. The oversight subcommittee has heard from the Federal Trade Commission, the Federal Communications Commission, law enforcement agencies, children that have been subjected to sexual abuse. We've also heard from victims advocates and some of the Internet Service Providers.

"H.R. 5319 would target children's use of social networking Web sites and chat rooms in schools and libraries. As participation in these Internet 'social communities' rises to record numbers, so do news reports of a multitude of potential dangers that they pose.

"There is no question that the Internet does and will continue to provide innovative benefits to society. However, we must take steps now to protect our children. This is a priority of this subcommittee and also the full committee and I might add it's a priority on both sides of the aisle. Mr. Dingell shares this concern just as much as I do. We need to prevent predators from using the Internet, and social networking sites in particular, to prey on our children.

"I think our witnesses today are going to give us a better understand the social networking phenomenon and the benefits and the problems it creates. If we can understand this, it will enable us to strike the right balance regarding the appropriate role for the federal government and federal legislation play in helping our educators keep our children safe on the Internet.

"It would seem to me that H.R. 5319 is a step in the right direction. Schools and libraries that receive universal service subsidies have an obligation to ensure that their subsidized communications services do not become a hunting ground for pedophiles. If social networking sites are not taking the necessary precautions to prevent the exploitation of children, then, at the very least, Congress should prohibit the use of federally mandated funds to access Internet sites that put children in harm's way.

"Again, I want to thank Attorney General Abbott for being here. I thank the other witnesses for being here and thank you, Mr. Chairman, for scheduling this hearing."

Thursday, June 29, 2006

 

U.S. Prosperity Flourishing, Barton Tells Commerce Secretary

‘We are the Envy of the World’

WASHINGTON – U.S. Rep. Joe Barton, R-Texas, chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, made the following statement today during the full committee hearing entitled, “Growth, Opportunity, Competition – America Goes to Work:”

“As head of the Department of Commerce, Secretary Gutierrez is responsible for promoting trade and industry for U.S. companies, at home and abroad. The department has responsibility for a diverse portfolio of federal programs including those relating to telecommunications, technology, economic statistics, trade promotion, weather, and oceanographic services.

“One of the priorities of the Bush Administration and of this committee is creating policies that allow economic growth and job creation to flourish. American innovation, technology, and standard of living are the reasons we are the envy of the entire world. It is an impressive cycle that attracts creative genius and rewards innovative progress. It is a strong foundation that others around the world have been trying to replicate for a number of years.

“I believe the administration and Congress have done a good job to maintain that foundation when faced with some of the extraordinary challenges of the last seven or eight years. In the wake of the technology market collapse and the onset of recession in 2000, we faced a significant test to restore economic growth and prosperity. That test became even more difficult with the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001 and the resulting economic shock that sent business investment into steep decline.

“The administration and Congress have worked together to helped prevent the economic downturn from being too prolonged and destructive to Americans’ standard of living. We have done a number of proactive policies that have spurred investment through tax cuts. Those policies have brought investment back to the market to create job growth and increase overall economic output that has created one of the strongest periods of economic activity we have experienced in our history.

“For example, since 2001, productivity has grown annually at 3.5 percent and outpaced the previous five year annual rate of 2.3 percent. This is the fastest rate of productive growth in four decades. As the key driver to economic growth, it is not surprising that productivity is translating into strong GDP growth. For the first quarter of this year, gross domestic product grew at an annual rate of, believe it or not, 5.6 percent. Unemployment has fallen from its peak in July 2003 at 6.3 percent to 4.7 percent last month. This is a historical low, and at a point many economists consider full employment. When compared to other industrialized countries—many of which have double-digit unemployment—there is no doubt that we are succeeding in fostering an environment conducive to creating jobs.

“Given all these remarkable statistics, we must remain committed to promoting policies that increase productivity and continue to provide real growth for all Americans. The Secretary of Commerce has reported that American employment rates are substantially higher than our Western European trading partners. The May unemployment rate of 4.6 percent, however, is significantly below the 30-year average of 6.4 percent and has fallen for all races, ages, and levels of education.

“During the committee’s last hearing two years ago with Secretary Gutierrez’s predecessor, Secretary Evans, we discussed a number of ways to promote growth and employment in U.S. industry, particularly with regard to the manufacturing sector. Those issues, at the time, were to enact a national energy policy, which we did, to promote reliable delivery of energy and diminish our reliance on foreign sources of oil and natural gas. On that second point, we have not done that. We wanted to enact tort reform to improve the competitiveness of U.S. manufacturers, and we wanted to control health care costs which make up a disproportionate share of manufacturers’ costs and increasingly affect all businesses.

“This committee is working hard to achieve these goals and I am proud to say we took a good step toward accomplishing the first one when we enacted the Energy Policy Act on a bipartisan basis last summer. However, as the hurricanes last fall demonstrated, more needs to be done to increase our refinery capacity to further reduce our dependence on foreign oil. As the increase in gasoline prices remains higher than anyone likes, on either side of the aisle, it is essential we continue to address all aspects of energy policy to provide viable alternatives for long-term sustainable energy independence. We are continuing to pursue these goals on a bipartisan basis, and I’m sure as the year progresses we will have more success on this front.

“Mr. Secretary, we are very glad to have you here. Personally, I appreciate you appearing before us and I look forward to hearing your testimony."
 

Teens Online Are ‘Very Vulnerable’ To Sexual Abuse, Committee Told

Detective: ‘Parents are scared to death out there’

WASHINGTON – Uninformed parents, cocky teenagers and tech-savvy predators make child pornography and exploitation possible on the Internet, a Connecticut police officer told Congress Wednesday.

“I have seen technology change in a direction that both benefits and assists online predators in carrying out their criminal activity,” Detective Frank Dannahey warned in a hearing of House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations. “With the majority of America’s teens online, the pool of potential online victims is vast.”

After seven Middletown, Conn., girls aged 12 to 16 were sexually assaulted in February by older men they met on Myspace.com, Dannahey posed online as a 19-year-old boy and in just two weeks gleaned personal information about more than 100 Myspace.com “friends.”

“It became immediately obvious that personal information was readily available and easily volunteered,” he said. “I was able to find out information such as where a teen lived, worked, their full name and date of birth, where they went to school, as well as home and cellular phone numbers.

“It was not uncommon to see photos of teens involved in underage drinking, drug use and risky behavior,” he added. “I found that teens are very trusting of people they meet online and are very willing to share their personal thoughts and information with virtual strangers. … Teens are very vulnerable online.”

Dannahey cited two major factors making the Internet so dangerous to children. The first was a lack of knowledge among parents about new technology. “The teen’s parents were totally unaware of what their teens were doing online,” he said, suggesting parents have their children walk them through what they do on the Internet. “Parents are scared to death out there, especially the ones that aren’t that Internet-savvy.”

Another problem is a naiveté among teens that they won’t fall victim to predators, even as their peers do.

“Why is there just no awareness of the danger?” asked U.S. Rep. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn.

“They definitely have that ‘not-me’ feeling,” Dannahey observed. He said it was the same reaction teens have to the loss of a peer in a drunk-driving crash -- the parties stop and awareness is heightened, but after a few months old habits return. “They would acknowledge that ‘bad things happen,’ but they also say that ‘bad things don’t happen to me.’”

“I can’t imagine any parent out in the audience who would just give your 16-year-old a set of car keys and say, ‘Go for it,’” he said. “There’s a lot of preparation for that and this has to be under the same terms.”

Dannahey said education programs and public service announcements are the best way to combat online child predators. He suggested parents ban Webcams altogether and also expressed concern about Web-enabled cellular phones capable of recording pictures and videos.

“There have been some horrific cases where teens are generating their own pornography,” he said, noting that such images are treated like gold among predators.

Also testifying were representatives of social networking sites Facebook.com, Xanga.com and the popular Myspace.com – which attracts 250,000 new users every day and currently has 85 million registered users, more than 20 percent of whom are under 18. Lawmakers commended their recent efforts to thwart online child predators, but suggested that far more must be done, such as improved age-verification methods.

“We have all read the chilling news stories about a young teen meeting someone on one of these social networking sites and then being sexually molested or exploited in some way by one of these predators,” said U.S. Rep. Ed Whitfield, R-Ky., chairman of the subcommittee. “There has got to be a better answer to stopping this scenario than – don’t let your children use the Internet. I want to find that solution.”

“When our staffs were given a tour of the FBI’s ‘Innocent Images’ control center for Internet child abuse crimes, an agent went online posing as a 13-year-old girl that liked soccer,” said U.S. Rep. Bart Stupak, D-Mich., the subcommittee’s ranking member. “No other information was provided. This fictitious 13-year-old drew six responses from men seeking inappropriate conversation within the 15 minutes that the staff observed the exercise.

“Every day we wait for companies to change, millions of children are left vulnerable,” Stupak added. “Our patience is wearing thin. If we do not start seeing real change with real results, Congress will need to act swiftly to address this issue.”

Social networking sites are committed to helping law enforcement, executives testified, but are struggling to adopt effective age-verification software or practices. Each company had different data retention policies and expressed a willingness to hold information for longer if warranted. U.S. Rep. Greg Walden, R-Ore., suggested the Web sites cross-reference users with sex-offender registries to identify child predators.

The Federal Trade Commission revealed that they were currently investigating social networking sites to determine whether they are in compliance with the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act, which restricts the collection, use or disclosure of personally-identifiable information about children under 13 on the Internet.

Full committee Chairman Joe Barton, R-Texas, reiterated his intent to pursue comprehensive anti-child pornography legislation.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

 

Investigation Prods Internet Companies To Help Fight Online Child Pornography

Chairman Barton Says Legislation is Likely

WASHINGTON – A congressional investigation into online child pornography and exploitation has prompted Google to sever some business ties and prodded Comcast to dramatically increase how long it retains data that could prove crucial to prosecuting predators.

On Tuesday, the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations’ fourth hearing focused on whether or not major Internet service and content providers are doing enough to protect children online and to help put child predators behind bars.

After committee staff alerted the world’s largest search engine that it was actively selling advertising to Web sites that promote online child pornography, Google recently moved to “blacklist” those and other business partners. Nicole Wong, Google’s associate general counsel and chief privacy officer, called the ads an oversight.

And Comcast revealed that, effective Sept. 1, it will extend from a month to six months the period that it retains Internet addresses. Earlier this year the subcommittee’s investigation revealed that Comcast couldn’t comply with a law enforcement request for an address that was only three days old.

The hearing’s tone was set by Chris Hansen, the Dateline NBC reporter who has led the program’s two-year “To Catch a Predator” series using online decoys to expose middle-aged men seeking to have sexual relations with teenagers.

“Within minutes sometimes, men were trying to start up inappropriate and often obscene conversations,” he said. “There was graphic language, pornographic material and a grooming process all geared at setting up a sexual liaison with a minor.”

Hansen said that NBC’s research has shown that as many as one in three children online have been solicited for sexual acts and that the chat rooms frequented by predators tended to be small, regional Web sites. The five Dateline investigations have identified 130 men, 98 of whom are facing criminal charges.

“We have a long way to go in making the Internet a safe place for our children,” said U.S. Rep. Ed Whitfield, R-Ky., chairman of the subcommittee. “Let’s make it as difficult as possible for these child predators and pedophiles to trade images, set up illegal Web sites and find children on the Internet. Let’s do all we can to disrupt and end this network of criminals on the Internet.”

It was data retention that emerged as the issue of most concern to the committee. With no statutory requirement in place, companies testified that they retain data from as little as Comcast's 31 days to as many as EarthLink’s seven years. Executives expressed concerns about cost and consumer privacy when asked about the prospect of a mandatory nationwide data retention requirement.

“Currently, there is no federal law and no industry standard. This is seriously hindering investigations,” said U.S. Rep. Diana DeGette, D-Colo. “If investigators can't get the information they need to connect an IP address to a person then too often the case hits a dead end. The perpetrator is not going to be caught, and the child victim is not rescued from a childhood of unfathomable sexual abuse. This is a terrible problem and we need to fix it and fix it now.”

Some companies also suggested that the National Center on Missing and Exploited Children, a critical ally of the government in pursuing child predators, be given subpoena authority for data such as IP addresses.

Some lawmakers wondered why the United States hasn’t achieved the same success as the United Kingdom’s Internet Watch Foundation, a partnership formed in 1996 between the government, police and private industry. As a result of aggressive Internet monitoring and reporting tactics, today less than one percent of child pornography content is hosted in the United Kingdom, down from 18 percent in 1997. The same study says that the United States hosts 40 percent of the world’s online child pornography content.

Full committee Chairman Joe Barton, R-Texas, suggested the panel would soon pursue comprehensive legislation to crack down on Internet child predators.

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