Senator Collins Joins Bipartisan Effort to Ensure Justice for Victims of Sex Trafficking

Stop Enabling Sex Traffickers Act is a Narrowly-Crafted Solution Designed to Protect Women & Young Girls from Modern-Day Slavery

Washington, D.C. - U.S. Senator Susan Collins (R-ME) joined 19 bipartisan colleagues today in introducing the Stop Enabling Sex Traffickers Act. Their legislation would ensure justice for victims of sex trafficking and ensure that websites such as Backpage.com, which enable sex trafficking, can be held liable and brought to justice. 

“Every state in America is affected by the evils of sex trafficking. In order to help victims and prevent these atrocities from occurring, we must relentlessly pursue human traffickers who prey upon the most vulnerable in our society,” said Senator Collins. “This bipartisan legislation would ensure that websites that knowingly facilitate these heinous crimes are held accountable for their actions.”

The legislation is the result of a two-year Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations inquiry, led by Senators Rob Portman (R-OH) and Claire McCaskill (D-MO), which culminated in a report titled “Backpage.com’s Knowing Facilitation of Online Sex Trafficking,” which found that Backpage.com knowingly facilitated criminal sex trafficking of vulnerable women and young girls and then covered up evidence of these crimes in order to increase its own profits. The measure has been endorsed by the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children and other anti-trafficking advocates and law enforcement organizations.

The bipartisan 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.

In addition to Senator Collins, the legislation was introduced by Senators 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), 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), Bill Nelson (D-FL), and Marco Rubio (R-FL).

A full summary of the bill can be found HERE, a summary on why the bill is necessary is HERE, a section by section is HERE, and the text is HERE.