Rep. Kristi Noem today led the House in passing the Allow States and Victims to Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act. If enacted, the legislation would enhance criminal enforcement efforts, make sex trafficking less profitable for bad actors, and expand opportunities for states and victims to bring cases against those who facilitate sex trafficking online.

“In 2013,  a sting operation around Watertown resulted in more than 100 responses to undercover ads placed on the Backpage website,” said Noem. “This is not a major city. This is a hometown. It’s a place with a strong sense of community – a place built around families and a sense of right and wrong. Yet even in this community, websites like Backpage have been able to facilitate the buying and selling of our children. It needs to end, so I’m proud this legislation takes unprecedented steps to crack down on internet sex trafficking.”

Today’s legislation, which was cosponsored by Rep. Noem:

  • Holds bad actors accountable by clarifying that Section 23 of the Communications Decency Act does NOT grant immunity to websites that facilitate sex trafficking.
  • Creates a new federal crime targeting websites that intend to promote or facilitate illegal prostitution.
  • Increases criminal penalties that prosecutors can seek for websites that promote the illegal prostitution of 5 or more persons or act with reckless disregard for the fact that sex trafficking occurs on their website.
  • Provides additional restitution for trafficking survivors by creating a pathway for victims to sue bad actor websites for conduct violating the new criminal law.

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