Keeping Michigan families safe online

As technology continues to advance, it is having an ever-increasing impact on our daily lives. The way we access and share information is becoming more streamlined and instantaneous than ever.

While these advances, especially in mobile devices, allow us to significantly improve efficiency and organization throughout the day, it is important to be aware of the various security breaches that could compromise our privacy.

Each year, June is recognized as National Internet Safety Month as a means to spread awareness of the various ways you can keep yourself and your family safe online. As kids will be more active on their phones and social media making plans to enjoy the warm weather, it is the perfect time to talk to your family about staying safe online and learning new ways to protect your identity and information.

One of the best ways to stay safe online is by simply exercising good judgment. Keep your password updated regularly, and do not share it with anyone. Don’t click on links that are unfamiliar or open emails from an unknown sender. Scammers often create official-looking emails to persuade people to click a link that will download harmful software.

Having security software on all internet-connected devices and keeping it up to date is also of the utmost importance. These programs can prevent, contain and even eliminate malware, spyware and other malicious software that infects your device and tries to access your personal information.

Another way to keep your young children safe online is by using the state-operated child protection registry. The Michigan Child Protection Registry is a service that families can sign up for at no cost. It blocks adult-oriented material from reaching a child’s email inbox, cell phone or instant messenger ID. To sign up or see more information on this service, visit www.ProtectMiChild.com.

The internet has allowed society to advance more rapidly than ever imaginable. Humanity has an infinite amount of wisdom right at the end of their fingertips. We can now sync calendars and photo albums to multiple devices, pay bills and do a virtually unlimited amount of other things via an internet connection. This month, help older family members set up safety measures on their computers, and take the time to ensure your children are safe when using social media.

The internet is an invaluable asset. When used safely, it can be enjoyed by everyone.

Cracking down on human trafficking

May 25 marks 10 years since Public Act 162 of 2006, sponsored by then-Rep. Phil Pavlov, was signed into law — making human trafficking a crime in Michigan.

Our children are especially vulnerable to this heinous act, which is still clouded in shadow.

Human trafficking graphicThe Michigan Senate Republicans are continuing the effort to shine the light on human trafficking and crack down on a criminal industry that is second only to illegal drugs.

Sen. Judy Emmons led the effort to enact 21 comprehensive and landmark reforms in 2014 to end this modern-day slavery and support its survivors.

Emmons met with survivors of human trafficking and anti-trafficking activists across Michigan to develop solutions to help end this horrible crime, which devastates the lives of thousands of women and children every year.

Michigan now has some of the country’s strongest human trafficking laws.

Public Acts 324-344 of 2014 punish traffickers, support survivors and increase awareness and training. Among the 2014 laws were provisions to increase penalties for soliciting a minor prostitute, add those who solicit minor prostitutes to the sex offender registry, create a safe harbor for minor survivors of trafficking and establish a permanent Human Trafficking Commission.

As a result of the Senate’s efforts, the Protected Innocence Challenge (a report on the state of child sex trafficking laws in the U.S.) found that Michigan raised its grade to a “B” in 2015 – making it the most improved state.

Starting 10 years ago with PA 162 and adding 21 new laws in 2014, Michigan is sending a loud and clear statement that we are serious about protecting women and children, prosecuting traffickers and rescuing and assisting survivors.

National Police Week

Law enforcement officers put their lives on the line every day to keep our communities safe and respond in times of crisis. They help keep our neighborhoods safe so we can go to school, work and enjoy time with our families. They also spend long hours away from their own loved ones in often dangerous places and situations. Sadly, many of them never return home.

To salute the dedication and sacrifice of law enforcement officers and their families, in 1962 Congress established May 15 as National Peace Officers Memorial Day and the week on which it falls as National Police Week.

It is a time for communities across the country to honor and remember the officers who were killed in the line of duty. It is also a time to reflect on how blessed we are to have such amazing and selfless officers here in Michigan.

The Senate Republicans have worked to increase support for our state and local law enforcement. The Senate’s approved 2016-2017 budget plan dedicates additional funding for public safety and more state troopers.

The debt we owe to fallen officers cannot be fully repaid, but National Police Week offers us a chance to honor their service and sacrifice.

In observation of police week, we encourage you to take a moment to thank our outstanding law enforcement officers for all they do to make our state and communities safe.

If you would like to learn more, visit PoliceWeek.org.