IDAHO FALLS, Idaho — A local anti-sex trafficking agency is applauding a recent bill aimed at cracking down on websites that may be propelling Internet sex trafficking sales.
“What the bill is really doing is it opens up litigation to those platforms,” Matt Smith, executive director of Operation Shield, told KID Newsradio. “There is some opportunities now for parents and victims to go back on [websites] for their activity.”
H.R. 1865 will amend a law commonly known as the Communications Decency Act of 1996. In recent years Backpage has come under fire for their refusal to stop human sex trafficking of minors and continually uses the Communications Decency Act of 1996 to avoid lawsuits by victims and parents.
“Most of the CDA was struck down by the Supreme Court years ago, but Section 230 remains and unfortunately, it is being interpreted by the courts to give Backpage immunity for facilitating online sex trafficking,” according to the National Center on Sexual Exploitation. “For this reason the National Center on Sexual Exploitation (NCOSE), along with survivors, anti-trafficking advocates, law enforcement officials, and concerned citizens are calling on the U.S. Congress to amend the CDA.”
After H.R. 1865 passed Congress, Craigslist immediately removed their personal ads section of their website in response. The bill is heading to President Trump’s desk for a signature and Smith says its gives victims and their families recourse against companies like Backpage that do little to prevent people using their service to sell people for sex. But, Smith also says the bill does not mean Internet sex trafficking will end overnight.
“It’s not as blatant and in your face like it was a week ago, but it’s still there,” Smith said. “[Traffickers] are determined business people and they’re going to do what they can to keep their business going.”
Smith says parents need to remain vigilant about what their kids are doing online and make sure their kids know about the potential threats they could face in the Internet realm.
“Parents have to get over the fact that they think that they can’t cross their children when it comes to online stuff,” Smith said. “Parents must talk to their kids about the dangers of social media and they need to check up on it.”