Sex trafficking bill heads to president's desk

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After U.S. House approval last month, the Senate just passed the bill 97 to 2 which would allow states and victims to sue sites which knowingly promote prostitution and advertise sex trafficking.

The bill was introduced by Sen. The bill, awaiting President Donald Trump's signature, was hailed by anti-sex trafficking groups and law enforcement as an important step in fighting online prostitution of teenagers.

Once signed into law, sex trafficking survivors and state prosecutors will have the legal means to pursue civil and criminal actions against websites like Backpage.com that have knowingly allowed for the commercial sexual exploitation of women and children to occur while raking in millions in profit. In 1996, Congress passed a bipartisan measure protecting websites from potential liability stemming from third-party posts. "Law enforcement has turned to these sites to find criminals and victims, but the prosecution of the internet companies has been largely out of the question".

To close this loophole and end this injustice, I was proud to join with a bipartisan coalition led by Senator Rob Portman (R-OH) in supporting the "Stop Enabling Sex Traffickers Act", or SESTA.

Rep. Ann Wagner, R-Mo., FOSTA's sponsor, thanked the Senate for its vote, tweeting, "Today, Congress spoke up for countless survivors of sex trafficking and unequivocally stated that our sons and daughters are NOT for sale".

Among the sex ads posted on Backpage.com are those for underage boys and girls, authorities and advocacy groups say. The migratory nature of this crime has been underscored by the lack of federal laws necessary to enable investigators and prosecutors to bring online child sex traffickers to justice.

The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children reported an 846 percent increase in reports of suspected child sex trafficking from 2010 to 2015, a spike that is "directly correlated to the increased use of the internet to see children for sex".

Recently, Backpage's ads have begun omitting any copy with their offers of adult services, instead showing only photographs of the purported escorts.

Our nation's lawmakers have passed a bill that is helping the fight to stop sex trafficking in the Valley.

The staunchest opposition to the bill came from Sen.

"This has huge implications: It not only holds websites and apps accountable for knowingly collaborating with traffickers, but it is a powerful tool for survivors of trafficking and exploitation who are seeking justice", Williamson stated in a press release Wednesday. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., who stalled the Senate counterpart after placing a hold on the bill in November.

Among FOSTA's supporters were Facebook, IBM, Oracle, Hewlett Packard Enterprise and Mastercard.

Congress has given overwhelming approval to legislation created to thwart sex trafficking by holding accountable online sites that facilitate the crime. And the Electronic Frontier Foundation points out that because of the bill's broad wording, website owners who don't know their site is being used for sex trafficking may still be punished.

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