Recently, Congress passed the Allow States and Victims to Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act (FOSTA) to help authorities crack down on websites that enable sex trafficking. Even before being signed into law, this legislation is already paving the way for change, making it easier for law enforcement to take action.
Federal authorities have seized control of Backpage.com—notorious for enabling traffickers—and indicted its owners, executives, and employees. Websites like Reddit and Craigslist have reacted to the new law by shutting down certain advertising pages. The New York Times noted about FOSTA:
“It makes it easier for states to prosecute, or for victims to sue, internet companies they accuse of hosting content that facilitated sex trafficking. While President Trump has not yet signed FOSTA into law, Craigslist has already responded to the bill’s passage by taking down its personal ads section.”
President Trump is set to sign the bill tomorrow, marking a turning point in the fight against human trafficking.
Sex trafficking erodes the foundation of safety that upholds our communities and violates the human rights of victims. Its perpetrators have used the Internet to expand their reach, emboldened by websites that have allowed their activity to fester. Until now, our laws have not kept pace with these new challenges.
In addition to making it easier for states to investigate and prosecute businesses that facilitate online sex trafficking, FOSTA equips states with more effective tools to do so. And it empowers victims to seek justice by providing recourse for them to sue.
FOSTA was sponsored in the House by Rep. Ann Wagner (R-MO) and includes reforms authored by Rep. Mimi Walters (R-CA) as part of the Stop Enabling Sex Traffickers Act. The bill is supported by law enforcement, anti-trafficking advocates, faith-based groups, and members of the broader tech community.
We must do everything we can to end human trafficking—and that starts with shutting down the places where traffickers operate. These new reforms have already begun to make that possible, and Congress will continue its work to protect some of our country's most vulnerable from this horrific crime.
Read more on Congress's actions to fight human trafficking: