Senator Lankford Supports Bill to Fight Sex Trafficking, Hold Websites Accountable
WASHINGTON, DC – Senator James Lankford (R-OK) today supported the Allow States and Victims to Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act (HR 1865) to combat online sex trafficking. HR 1865 incorporates provisions of the Stop Enabling Sex Traffickers Act (SESTA). Lankford is an original cosponsor of SESTA, bipartisan legislation to ensure justice for victims of online sex trafficking and ensure websites such as Backpage.com, which knowingly facilitate sex trafficking, are held liable and brought to justice.
“Despite a multitude of federal laws to prevent human trafficking – especially of children and women – websites are not held accountable for their participation in the sex trafficking market,” said Lankford. “We must eliminate any loopholes in the law to ensure there are significant consequences for facilitating human trafficking. I am grateful that the Senate has voted on this important legislation so we can protect future generations from being victim to websites such as Backpage.com.”
The legislation is the result of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations 18-month investigation into online sex trafficking. The investigation was led by Senators Rob Portman (R-OH) and Claire McCaskill (D-MO). The Subcommittee produced a report entitled “Backpage.com’s Knowing Facilitation of Online Sex Trafficking,” which found that Backpage.com—the largest commercial marketplace for sex online—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 measure has been endorsed by numerous law enforcement and anti-human trafficking organizations, including the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children.
The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children reported an 846 percent increase in reports of suspected child sex trafficked from 2010 to 2015, a spike that is “directly correlated to the increased use of the internet to see children for sex.”
The bill will help stop online sex trafficking, ensure justice for trafficking survivors, and hold accountable websites that knowingly facilitate these crimes.