Congress has made its first move in battling online services such as Backpage.com.
Lisa Thompson of the National Center on Sexual Trafficking warns about Backpage.com, which she says appears to be a classified service where someone could post a used lawnmower or microwave for sale.
"But in reality,” Thompson said, "its business model is built on offering human beings who are purchased for sex and many of those who ... go there are actually buying sexually trafficked children and adults.”
It has been able to do so because of liberal court interpretations of the Communications Decency Act, which was passed to protect children from indecent material.
However, more recently, the Senate Commerce Committee has unanimously passed SB 1693, the Stop Enabling Sex Traffickers Act, which would correct that. A companion bill in the House, HR 1865, The Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act, will also help curtail trafficking.
"I would say it's the most important anti-trafficking legislation in nearly 20 years,” Thompson said. “We need to get everybody on board with this, and unfortunately there are still voices within the tech sector that are opposing this."
Thompson says it's a bipartisan issue and both the House and Senate bills are drawing bipartisan support in both houses of Congress.