Rounds Statement on Senate Passage of Bill to Provide Justice to Victims of Sex Trafficking
WASHINGTON—U.S. Sen. Mike Rounds (R-S.D.) issued the following statement after the Senate voted to pass the Allow States and Victims to Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act, legislation that would allow victims of sex trafficking to seek justice against websites such as Backpage.com that knowingly facilitate the crimes against them. Rounds is a cosponsor of this legislation.
“Websites that make a profit by providing a platform for sex traffickers must be held liable,” said Rounds. “The legislation we passed today was narrowly crafted to prevent websites from evading legal repercussions for their criminal actions while at the same time allowing the internet to remain free and open. It also includes provisions to allow victims of sex trafficking to seek the justice they deserve.”
This bill is the result of a two-year Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations (PSI) inquiry 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.
This narrowly crafted bill offers three reforms to the Communications Decency Act to help victims of sex trafficking. It would:
- Allow victims of sex trafficking to seek justice against websites that knowingly or with reckless disregard facilitated the crimes against them;
- Eliminate federal liability protections for websites that assist, support or facilitate a violation of federal sex trafficking laws; and
- Enable state law enforcement officials, not just the federal Department of Justice, to take action against individuals or businesses that violate federal sex trafficking laws.