(CNSNews.com) - "The explosion of the Internet has brought with it an explosion in child exploitation and child pornography," FBI Director James Comey told a Senate Appropriations subcommittee last week.
Comey described the Internet as an "enormous machine" where people view child porn at the back-end, while children are "fed into the engine" at the front-end.
"And it's one of the reasons it drives me a bit crazy when I hear people say, oh, they were just looking at child pornography...There's no such thing, in my view, as just looking at child pornography," Comey said. "It's a serious crime. ...It's something we are passionate about.
"And we have to send a message, both to those who would profit from the business, those who would view and become the consumers that drives this engine, and those who would touch the children and destroy them to produce those images. So, we have to hit the whole train."
Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Ala.) told Comey he's visited Eastern Europe and the Ukraine, where a lot of the human trafficking and pornography production takes place.
"It's hard to stamp out," he said. "But in America, a lot of Americans are buying movies or all of this. It's sickening."
Comey told the panel that despite recent political differences, the FBI does have good cooperation from Russia and Ukraine.
"[D]espite what political differences we may have, all humans are revolted by the abuse of children -- exploitation of children. So, that's an area in which we can find common ground, even with the folks in Russia."
As of December 2013, the FBI had more than 7,000 pending investigations involving child exploitation, including sex trafficking of minors and child pornography, according to recent testimony by Michael Harpster, the acting Deputy assistant director of the FBI's Criminal Investigative Division.