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Tom Udall and Martin Heinrich top and U. Correction: In referencing a Ms. Garcia was charged by police of being an operator of the site, which they alleged was a house of prostitution, but a state district court judge threw out all the charges. The reference has been removed. Federal lawmakers are on the verge of approving anti-sex trafficking legislation that would enact stricter law enforcement measures against websites with content that knowingly assists, promotes or facilitates sex trafficking.
Some also fear that despite its best intentions, consequences of the legislation could further endanger the same people it aims to protect. Republican U. The ease of connecting traffickers through social media has contributed to the spread of trafficking and illicit activity online. And U. He agreed with his colleagues that websites that purposefully facilitate sex trafficking crimes must be held accountable.
Just before the Feb. A large majority of Representatives voted to pass it an hour later. Legal speech—including speech from marginalized people, including speech from sex trafficking victims —is inevitably going to be censored under this new regime. Language in both bills amends Section of the Communications Decency Act, an area of law unique to the United States. But the solutions need to be specific and tailored and created with an understanding that there is a bigger ecosystem at play.
Moreover, there is little to suggest that current law could not be used to find and punish the bad actors who are truly facilitating online sex traffickers. Marsha Blackburn , R-Tennessee, and Rep. Amy Wagner , R-Missouri. Albuquerque civil rights attorney Laura Ives said private companies like the classified advertising website Backpage are motivated to enable criminal behavior if they earn money off it. Ives said she appreciates free speech activism and recognizes that consequences of proposed federal legislation could impact willing sex workers.
Ives has represented victims of sex trafficking , and she said private companies, including in the hotel industry, often look the other way in favor of profits.