March 21, 2018

Young Votes to Provide Justice for Trafficking Victims

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Todd Young (R-Ind.) today voted for the Stop Enabling Sex Traffickers Act (SESTA), which passed the Senate on a 97-2 vote. Senator Young cosponsored the Senate version of the bill, S.1693.

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 sell children for sex.” SESTA makes needed changes to the Communications Decency Act to hold accountable websites like that knowingly facilitate sex trafficking crimes online, and deputizes state attorneys general to prosecute websites that violate federal sex trafficking laws.

“It’s hard to believe that a crime so wicked occurs here in the United States, but that is the unfortunate reality we face. Websites that facilitate sex trafficking crimes cannot be allowed to get away with such evil. This legislation will help provide justice for trafficking victims and their families, and ensure that the purveyors of websites designed solely to traffick sex are punished for their crimes,” said Senator Young.

Backpage has successfully evaded legal repercussions in part because of an immunity granted in in the Communications Decency Act (CDA). The CDA, which was enacted in 1996 when the internet was in its infancy, was never intended to protect websites that facilitate sex trafficking. For years, victims, their families, and law enforcement have attempted to hold Backpage and others accountable, but courts have dismissed their cases by citing the blanket immunity in the CDA.

Last August, a Sacramento judge cited the broad immunity provided by the CDA in dismissing some charges against Backpage. The court opinion stated: “If and until Congress sees fit to amend the immunity law, the broad reach of Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act even applies to those alleged to support the exploitation of others by human trafficking.”

SESTA is supported by: National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, The Internet Association, 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, National Association of Pediatric Nurse Practitioners, 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, National Urban League, National District Attorneys Association, Major County Sheriffs of America, Fraternal Order of Police, National Association of Police Organizations, Major Cities Chiefs and Police Organizations, Facebook, 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.