The Stop Enabling Sex Traffickers Act (SESTA) will bring justice to victims of sex trafficking and ensure that websites such as Backpage.com, which knowingly facilitate sex trafficking, are held liable
WASHINGTON– U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar announced today that the Allow States and Victims to Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act of 2017 (FOSTA) was signed into law, which including the Klobuchar-backed Stop Enabling Sex Traffickers Act (SESTA) to help stop online sex trafficking and provide justice for victims. SESTA, which passed the Senate by an overwhelming bipartisan vote of 97-2 last month, will clarify Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act to ensure that websites that knowingly facilitate sex trafficking are held accountable for their crimes. This narrowly-crafted legislation offers three reforms to help sex trafficking victims, including:
- Allowing victims of sex trafficking to seek justice against websites that knowingly facilitated the crimes against them;
- Eliminating federal liability protections for websites that assist, support, or facilitate a violation of federal sex trafficking laws; and
- Enabling state law enforcement officials, not just the federal Department of Justice, to take action against individuals or businesses that violate federal sex trafficking laws.
“A lot of the sex trafficking that is taking place across Minnesota and the United States is facilitated online, including on websites like Backpage.com. We need to stop protecting perpetrators and empower victims so they are able to seek the justice they deserve, and the Stop Enabling Sex Traffickers Act will do just that,” Klobuchar said. “With the signing of this bill into law, we are one step closer to stopping human traffickers from committing these horrific crimes online.”
The legislation is the result of a two-year Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations (PSI) inquiry, led by Senators Rob Portman Portman (R-OH) and Claire McCaskill (D-MO), 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. Earlier this week, Backpage.com was seized by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).
In addition to Klobuchar, SESTA 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).
Klobuchar is a national leader in the fight to combat human trafficking. In 2015, Klobuchar’s Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act was signed into law. The legislation increased the resources and tools available for combating human trafficking in the United States, and established the U.S. Advisory Council on Human Trafficking. Earlier this year, Klobuchar and Senator John Thune (R-SD)’s bipartisan Combating Human Trafficking in Commercial Vehicles Act was signed into law. The legislation designates a human trafficking prevention coordinator at the U.S. Department of Transportation and increase outreach and education efforts at the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration to help prevent human trafficking. Last year, the Abolish Human Trafficking Act Klobuchar introduced with Senator John Cornyn (R-TX) and the Trafficking Victims Protection Act she and Cornyn introduced with Senators Chuck Grassley (R-IA) and Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) both passed the Senate.