Press Releases

Washington D.C. – U.S. Senators Marco Rubio (R-FL), Rob Portman (R-OH), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), John McCain (R-AZ), Claire McCaskill (D-MO), John Cornyn (R-TX), Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND), Roy Blunt (R-MO), Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV), Bob Casey (D-PA) Susan Collins (R-ME), Bob Corker (R-TN), Ted Cruz (R-TX), Jeff Flake (R-AZ), Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Johnny Isakson (R-GA), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), James Lankford (R-OK), Mike Lee (R-UT), and Bill Nelson (D-FL) today introduced the Stop Enabling Sex Traffickers Act, bipartisan legislation that would ensure justice for victims of sex trafficking and that websites such as Backpage.com, which knowingly facilitate sex trafficking, can be held liable and brought to justice.  

“Perpetrators of human trafficking and websites like Backpage.com that knowingly facilitate sex trafficking of children must be held accountable,” said Rubio. “Sex trafficking is an ongoing issue in Florida and across our nation, and this legislation is an important step forward in ensuring that those engaging in and helping to facilitate these crimes are held responsible and all victims receive the justice they deserve.”

“Stopping trafficking is one of the great humanitarian and human rights causes of the 21st century,” said Portman. “Our bipartisan investigation showed that Backpage knowingly facilitated sex trafficking on its website to increase its own profits, all at the expense of vulnerable women and young girls.  For too long, courts around the country have ruled that Backpage can continue to facilitate illegal sex trafficking online with no repercussions. The Communications Decency Act is a well-intentioned law, but it was never intended to help protect sex traffickers who prey on the most innocent and vulnerable among us. This bipartisan, narrowly-crafted bill will help protect vulnerable women and young girls from these horrific crimes.”

The Stop Enabling Sex Traffickers Act would clarify Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act to ensure that websites that knowingly facilitate sex trafficking can be held liable so that 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 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.