Stop Enabling Sex Traffickers Act is a narrowly-crafted solution designed to protect women and young girls from modern-day slavery
WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar and a bipartisan group of senators have introduced the Stop Enabling Sex Traffickers Act to ensure justice for victims of sex trafficking and ensure that websites such as Backpage.com, which knowingly facilitate sex trafficking, can be held liable and brought to justice.
The legislation is the result of a two-year Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations (PSI) inquiry, led by Senators Portman and McCaskill, which culminated in a report entitled “Backpage.com’s Knowing Facilitation of Online Sex Trafficking,” which found that Backpage.com knowingly facilitated criminal sex trafficking of vulnerable women and young girls and then covered up evidence of these crimes in order to increase its own profits. The measure has been endorsed by the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children and other anti-trafficking advocates and law enforcement organizations.
“Websites like Backpage.com facilitate sex trafficking across Minnesota and our country. But shutting down these sites isn’t enough, we need to stop protecting perpetrators and ensure victims are able to seek the justice they deserve,” Klobuchar said. “The bipartisan Stop Enabling Sex Traffickers Act is another step toward putting an end to these crimes once and for all.”
In addition to Klobuchar, the legislation was also introduced by Senators Rob Portman (R-OH), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), John McCain (R-AZ), Claire McCaskill (D-MO), John Cornyn (R-TX), Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND), Roy Blunt (R-MO), Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV), Bob Casey (D-PA) Susan Collins (R-ME), Bob Corker (R-TN), Ted Cruz (R-TX), Jeff Flake (R-AZ), Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Johnny Isakson (R-GA), James Lankford (R-OK), Mike Lee (R-UT), Bill Nelson (D-FL) and Marco Rubio (R-FL).
The bipartisan Stop Enabling Sex Traffickers Act would clarify Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act to ensure that websites that knowingly facilitate sex trafficking can be held liable so that victims can get justice. This narrowly-crafted legislation offers three reforms to help sex trafficking victims. The bipartisan bill would:
- Allow victims of sex trafficking to seek justice against websites that knowingly facilitated the crimes against them;
- Eliminate federal liability protections for websites that assist, support, or facilitate a violation of federal sex trafficking laws; and
- Enable state law enforcement officials, not just the federal Department of Justice, to take action against individuals or businesses that violate federal sex trafficking laws.
Klobuchar is a national leader in the fight to combat human trafficking. In June, the bipartisan Abolish Human Trafficking Act she introduced with Senator John Cornyn (R-TX) passed the Senate Judiciary Committee. The legislation strengthens and reauthorizes key programs that support survivors of human trafficking and provide resources to federal, state, and local law enforcement officials on the front lines of the fight against modern-day slavery. In addition, Klobuchar and Cornyn, along with Senators Chuck Grassley (R-IA) and Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) introduced the bipartisan Trafficking Victims Protection Act to establish and reauthorize critical programs to prevent human trafficking, promote justice for survivors, provide services to victims, and increase federal coordination to enhance the federal government’s response to the crisis of exploitation. Klobuchar and Cornyn also authored the Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act, a 2015 law that increased the resources and tools available for combating human trafficking in the United States. The law ensures that American law enforcement is equipped to fight this crime, while helping victims rebuild their lives by using fines and penalties against their exploiters to fund restorative services and compensation. In January, the U.S. Department of Justice released the National Strategy to Combat Human Trafficking, which Klobuchar called for in the Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act. The National Strategy helps coordinate efforts to investigate and prevent human trafficking between federal, state, local, and tribal agencies. Last year, she and Senator Mark Warner (D-VA) introduced the Stop Trafficking on Planes (STOP) Act that would require training for certain airline industry employees to recognize and report suspected human trafficking to law enforcement. A provision based on this legislation was signed into law last July as part of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Reauthorization Act of 2016.