Bill would let sex traffic victims sue websites
Senators introduced legislation Tuesday that would let sex trafficking victims sue websites they blame for helping their traffickers, and would free federal, state and local law enforcement to go after them more freely.
The goal is to prevent a repeat of the scandal involving Backpage.com — one of the internet’s largest purveyors of adult services — which now stands accused of knowingly letting itself be used for sex trafficking of children.
Backpage had claimed it was the equivalent of a classified ads section in a newspaper, running others’ advertising but not involved in the actual services being sold. The company claimed protections under the Communications Decency Act.
But Sen. Rob Portman and nearly two dozen other senators are trying to change that.
“For too long, courts around the country have ruled that Backpage can continue to facilitate illegal sex trafficking online with no repercussions,” the Ohio Republican said.
Backpage faces criminal charges in California, several federal lawsuits and the aftermath of the long
Senate investigation, which pried tens of thousands of pages of documents from the secretive company.