Congress Files Bill to Amend TVPA to Combat Demand; State Attorneys General Ask Congress to Amend CDA
Arlington, VA— Today Government officials are taking two pathbreaking actions in the fight against demand for and online facilitation of sex trafficking.
- A bill addressing demand, those individuals buying sex with trafficked women and children, will be filed today to amend the Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA) to clarify the range of conduct punished as sex trafficking to include the conduct of buyers. Representatives Poe, Granger, Maloney, and Nolan and Senators Cornyn and Klobuchar are sponsoring the bill. The bill adds just two verbs to clarify the reach of the law: “patronize” and “solicit,” but will be a critical clarification of the intent of Congress to prevent, deter and punish demand. The bill also directs the U.S. Attorney General to engage the efforts of existing task forces and working groups to increase the investigative capabilities of state and local law enforcement in the investigation and prosecution of demand.
- Forty-seven state attorneys general and the National Association of Attorneys General (NAAG) are endorsing and circulating a letter to Congress advocating to amend the Communications Decency Act of 1996 (CDA) to remove the barrier to state prosecution of online businesses in violation of trafficking and prostitution offenses. Section 230 of the CDA, title 47, U.S. Code, provides criminal and civil immunity to Internet content providers, even when they allegedly participate in illegal activity. As a result, online classified advertising sites, such as Backpage.com, that have created a virtual marketplace for prostitution and child sex trafficking. Advance Interactive Media (AIM) Group estimates that online commercial sex ads will generate over $45 million in revenue this year, with over 80 percent of profits earned by Backpage.com. This change is particularly timely because sex trafficking has largely moved from the streets to the Internet. The amendment proposes adding just two words to extend to state and local governments the ability to investigate whether these organizations are aiding and abetting prostitution or related crimes.
“Buyers of sex with trafficking victims and executives facilitating online commercial sexual exploitation like those at Backpage.com are evading criminal culpability for their role in domestic minor sex trafficking. Amending these federal laws will close the noose on buyers and facilitators and bring justice to the countless children that are bought and sold for sex,” said Shared Hope International President and Founder, former U.S. Congresswoman Linda Smith. “We applaud these government officials for bravely taking action to bring our laws closer to the intentions of our nation’s leadership.”