Praise is pouring in for a bill President Trump signed into law on Wednesday that gives more authority to federal and state prosecutors to go after websites that allow ads for sex trafficking.
Breitbart News reported:
The legislation, known as the “Allow States and Victims to Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act of 2017 (FOSTA),” makes it harder for websites to be protected from legal liability for content posted by its users and enables prosecutors to threaten legal action against websites for abetting sex trafficking.
“Finally, immunity for those engaged in online sex slavery is over,” Dawn Hawkins, executive director of the National Center on Sexual Exploitation, said in a statement, adding:
Before FOSTA-SESTA, sex trafficking victims were essentially barred from the civil courts when seeking justice against websites that knowingly facilitated prostitution and sex trafficking, and state and local prosecutors had tied hands because the law was giving broad immunity to these websites.
“The signing of FOSTA-SESTA changed that and is a historic and overwhelming victory for human dignity and freedom from sexual exploitation,” Hawkins said.
“The president is standing up to Silicon Valley and standing with victims of abuse,” Penny Nance, CEO and president of Concerned Women for America, said in a statement. “FOSTA is the biggest anti-sex-trafficking bill that has been signed into law since The Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act of 2003.”
“This bill closes the loophole that allowed bad actor websites to not only knowingly facilitate prostitution and sex trafficking, but also to profit from the ads selling women and children against their will,” Nance said.
Nance noted that even before the bill became law, the Trump administration was working to end online sex trafficking.
As Breitbart News reported, the FBI seized and shut down Backpage.com, a website that specialized in sex-related classified ads and the website’s chief executive, Carl Ferrer, was arrested at the company’s headquarters in Dallas, Texas, and charged with sexual exploitation and pimping charges.
Michael Lacey, also a Backpage.com operative, was arrested in Phoenix, Arizona, and charged with sex trafficking.
The Internet Association also issued a statement in favor of the new law but expressed concern about free speech and digital commerce.
“The internet industry is committed to ending trafficking online,” Internet Association President and CEO Michael Beckerman said in a statement following the passage of HR 1865. “We share this goal with lawmakers who are looking to stop bad actors.”
“Internet Association members work to combat human trafficking by partnering with both law enforcement and NGOs like NCMEC, Thorn, and Polaris to protect victims and bring criminals to justice,” Beckerman said. “IA will continue to be a key partner with policymakers looking to tackle these critical issues.”
“It is, at the same time, important to protect the laws that allow the internet to thrive and empower online platforms to foster a legal and safe environment,” Beckerman said.
“I’m signing this bill in your honor. … You have endured what no person on Earth should ever have to endure.” Trump said, addressing the sex trafficking victims and their families at his side as he signed the legislation into law. “This is a great piece of legislation, and it’s really going to make a difference.”