WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator Rob Portman (R-OH) and Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) highlighted a letter from 50 attorneys general from states and U.S. territories backing efforts to amend the Communications Decency Act (CDA) to ensure they can prosecute companies such as Backpage.com that support, facilitate, or assist sex trafficking. In their letter, the attorneys general said the following:
“Backpage.com is facilitating — and profiting from — these illegal activities. However, certain interpretations of the CDA have resulted in companies like Backpage.com remaining outside the reach of state and local law enforcement in these kinds of cases. We do not believe that was Congress’s intent in passing the CDA, and we do not believe that is Congress’s intent now. It is both ironic and tragic that the CDA, which was intended to protect children from indecent material on the internet, is now used as a shield by those who profit from prostitution and crimes against children.”
Recently, Senators Portman and Blumenthal and more than two dozen bipartisan senators introduced the Stop Enabling Sex Traffickers Act, narrowly-crafted legislation that would amend the CDA and help attorneys general to hold accountable companies like Backpage that knowingly facilitate the trafficking of women and children online. The legislation is gaining momentum and garnering strong support. In addition to the state attorneys general, there is a growing chorus of national anti-trafficking advocates supporting this bipartisan bill.