Stop Enabling Sex Traffickers Act is a Narrowly-Crafted Solution Designed to Protect Women & Young Girls from Modern-Day Slavery

U.S. Senator John Cornyn (R-TX) cosponsored a bill introduced by Sens. Rob Portman (R-OH), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), John McCain (R-AZ), Claire McCaskill (D-MO), Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND), Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV), Orrin Hatch (R-UT), James Lankford (R-OK), and Mike Lee (R-UT) called the Stop Enabling Sex Traffickers Act. This bipartisan legislation promotes justice for victims of sex trafficking and ensures that websites such as Backpage.com, which knowingly facilitate sex trafficking, can be held liable and brought to justice.

“We must do all we can to ensure victims of human trafficking receive the justice they deserve, and the first step is holding those who facilitate this heinous crime accountable,” Sen. Cornyn said. “Child sex traffickers and their enablers should not be able to hide on the internet any longer.”

The legislation is the result of a two-year Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations (PSI) inquiry, led by Sens. Portman and McCaskill, 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.

The bipartisan Stop Enabling Sex Traffickers Act would clarify Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act to ensure websites that knowingly or recklessly facilitate sex trafficking can be held liable so victims can get justice. This narrowly-crafted legislation offers three reforms to help sex trafficking victims. The bipartisan bill would:
• Allow victims of sex trafficking to seek justice against websites that knowingly or recklessly 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.

A full summary of the bill can be found here, a summary on why the bill is necessary is here, a section by section here, and the text here.

Senator John Cornyn, a Republican from Texas, is a member of the Senate Finance, Intelligence, and Judiciary Committees