News Releases

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Isakson Continues Fight against Modern-Day Slavery

'Stop Enabling Sex Traffickers Act of 2017' would help protect victims

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., today introduced bipartisan legislation that would help stop the scourge of online sex trafficking and help victims of this crime.

The Stop Enabling Sex Traffickers Act of 2017 would ensure that operators of websites who knowingly facilitate sex trafficking can be held liable, and that victims can pursue legal recourse in their struggle for justice.

“In 2015, Congress passed legislation to help the victims of modern-day slavery and provide them with justice, and today’s legislation takes this intention a step further after recent court decisions have limited recourse for victims of this vile crime,” said Isakson. “Legislation passed by Congress in the 90s was never intended to protect those who enrich themselves through sex trafficking. This legislation will help clarify the law, hold perpetrators accountable and hopefully prevent future crimes of this reprehensible nature.”

Congress put in place criminal penalties to guard against sex trafficking in 2015 under the Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act, which Isakson supported. However, recent court rulings have made it clear that Congress must act to amend the Communications Decency Act of 1996 to hold those who run sites that facilitate sex trafficking civilly and criminally accountable for their crimes. 

The Stop Enabling Sex Traffickers Act of 2017 is the result of a two-year inquiry led by Senators Rob Portman, R-Ohio, and Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., that culminated in a report entitled, “Backpage.com’s Knowing Facilitation of Online Sex Trafficking.” This report found that Backpage.com knowingly facilitated criminal sex trafficking of vulnerable women and young girls and then covered up evidence of these crimes to increase its own profits.

The Stop Enabling Sex Traffickers Act of 2017 was introduced by Senators McCaskill and Portman, and in addition to Isakson, is cosponsored by Sens. Roy Blunt, R-Mo., Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.V., Bob Casey, D-Pa., Susan Collins, R-Maine, Bob Corker, R-Tenn., John Cornyn, R-Texas, Ted Cruz, R-Texas, Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., Heidi Heitkamp, D-N.D., Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., James Lankford, R-Okla., Mike Lee, R-Utah, Joe Manchin, D-W.V., John McCain, R-Ariz., Bill Nelson, D-Fla., and Marco Rubio, R-Fla.

Additional information can be found in the one-page summary or the text of legislation.

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