Rob Portman

03/14/2018 | Press release | Distributed by Public on 03/14/2018 12:12

FACT SHEET -- Portman's Stop Enabling Sex Traffickers Act

68 Senators Now Support Legislation to Provide Criminal and Civil Remedies for Victims of Sex Trafficking

Sex trafficking is a growing problem because of the internet. Sex trafficking has moved from the street to the smart phone. The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children reported an 846% increase in reports of suspected child sex trafficking from 2010 to 2015 - a spike the organization found to be 'directly correlated to the increased use of the internet to sell children for sex.' The number of trafficking incidents reported is staggering and the stories of victims who have sought and been denied justice is tragic. This legislation addresses both problems.

For too long, courts around the country have ruled that trafficking websites like Backpage.com can continue to knowingly promote illegal sex trafficking online with no repercussions. In January 2017, after an 18-month investigation, the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations (PSI) issued a stunning report which found that Backpage actively and knowingly facilitated the criminal sex trafficking of vulnerable women and young girls, and covered up evidence of these crimes all to increase its own profits. And yet, because of a federal law, they have been immune from prosecution.

Congress put in place criminal penalties to guard against sex trafficking in the Trafficking Victims Protection Act. However, court rulings have made it clear that Congress must act to amend the Communication Decency Act to hold those who run sites that facilitate sex trafficking civilly and criminally accountable for their crimes. That's what this bill does.

A Victim Focused and Carefully Crafted Solution: The bill amends Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act that was never intended to protect websites that facilitate sex trafficking. The bill clarifies Section 230 and ensures that websites that facilitate sex trafficking can be held liable and that victims can get justice.

Bipartisan Senate Supporters: The bill is cosponsored by 68 Senators (42 Republicans and 26 Democrats) Portman, Blumenthal, McCain, McCaskill, Cornyn, Heitkamp, Barrasso, Blunt, Booker, Boozman, Brown, Burr, Capito, Carper, Casey, Cassidy, Cochran, Collins, Coons, Corker, Cortez-Masto, Cotton, Cruz, Daines, Duckworth, Durbin, Enzi, Ernst, Feinstein, Fischer, Flake, Jones, Gardner, Gillibrand, Graham, Grassley, Harris, Hassan, Hatch, Heller, Hoeven, Isakson, Kennedy, Klobuchar, Lankford, Lee, Manchin, Menendez, Murkowski, Murphy, Nelson, Roberts, Rounds, Rubio, Sasse, Schatz, Scott, Shaheen, Shelby, Sullivan, Tester, Thune, Tillis, Toomey, Van Hollen, Wicker, Whitehouse and Young.

Endorsements Anti-Trafficking Advocates: National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, Shared Hope, Polaris Project, ECPAT-USA, Rights4Girls, World Without Exploitation, PROTECT, National Children's Alliance Trafficking in America Taskforce, Covenant House, Coalition Against Trafficking in Women (CATW), Living Bread. Lynch Foundation for Children, Legal Momentum, Freegrance, Grace Farms Foundation, African American Juvenile Justice Project, DeliverFund, Survivors for Solutions, Fair Girls, Courtney's House, Teens Against Trafficking Faith Community: Faith & Freedom Coalition, Family Research Council, Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, Concerned Women for America, Focus on the Family, Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America, National Council of Jewish Women,The Catholic Association, Friends Committee on National Legislation, United Methodist Church Civil Rights: National Urban League Law Enforcement: National District Attorneys Association, Major County Sheriffs of America, Fraternal Order of Police, National Association of Police Organizations, Major Cities Chiefs and Police Organizations Industry: The Internet Association, Oracle, 21st Century Fox, Hewlett Packard Enterprise, IBM, Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), CoStar Group, The American Hotel and Lodging Association, The Walt Disney Company, Marriott International, Mastercard.