November 03, 2017

Senators Announce Support of Bipartisan Bill to Combat Sex Trafficking

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senators Kamala D. Harris (D-CA), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), and Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV) today announced their support of the bipartisan Stop Enabling Sex Traffickers Act (SESTA), a bill to crack down on sex trafficking and ensure justice for victims.

“Sex trafficking is a despicable crime that is too often facilitated by nefarious websites like Backpage. These companies knowingly profit off the pain of others and must be held accountable,” said the senators. “This legislation ensures victims receive their day in court and empowers state attorneys general to seek justice. We applaud the hard work of the bill’s authors and are proud to join in support.”

“I am particularly grateful to my colleagues who have joined this legislation,” said Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), one of the authors of the bill. “We expect to move forward with a bill that places responsibility where it belongs to protect children from sex trafficking and ads that exploit them. Removing the unwarranted shield from legal responsibility will save countless children from horrific tragedy, both physical and emotional.”

SESTA was written in response to a two-year Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations (PSI) inquiry which found that 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. The report from the subcommittee can be found here.

The bill would allow victims of sex trafficking to seek justice against websites that knowingly facilitated the crimes against them and eliminate federal liability protections for websites that assist, support, or facilitate a violation of federal sex trafficking laws. In addition, the law would 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.