WASHINGTON, D.C. – Both U.S. Senators from Ohio are working to stop online sex trafficking.
This week, Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, introduced a bill to crack down on websites that promote trafficking.
The bill comes after a Senate investigation into the classifieds website, Backpage.com. The investigation found Backpage.com was actively facilitating sex trafficking. But so far, the website has been able to avoid prosecution. Portman’s bill could change that.
The senator said the sex trade has gone digital.
“It’s moved from the street corner to the iPhone,” the senator said.
Portman said federal law needs to catch up.
The Communications Decency Act now protects websites from prosecution for illegal action by their users.
He wants to change the law to crack down on some sites.
“If a company knowingly engages in sex trafficking, facilitates it, assists it, supports it, it would no longer have immunity,” Portman said.
The bill has support from senators on both sides of the aisle, including Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio.
“Trafficking mostly young girls, I say girls, not women, because they’re underage in so many cases. Trafficking through the internet is far too widespread,” Brown said.
But some tech groups are worried. The Internet Association, a trade group that represents Amazon, Google and other tech giants, released a statement saying in part:
“This bill…would create a new wave of frivolous and unpredictable actions against legitimate companies rather than addressing underlying criminal behavior.”