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Trump signs law designed to fight sex trafficking

(WHSV)
Published: Apr. 11, 2018 at 4:11 PM EDT
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President Donald Trump has signed a new law aimed at curbing sex trafficking.

During a White House signing ceremony Wednesday, the president said the survivors "are very brave."

Among those at the ceremony were Trump's daughter, Ivanka, several members of Congress and families of victims.

The law passed Congress overwhelmingly. It weakens a legal shield for online services that host abusive content, including sex trafficking.

The protections made users of such sites as Facebook liable for the content. The legislation grew out of frustration that classified-ad sites can claim they aren't the publisher of questionable content but are merely transmitting posts by others.

Trump called the issue "a tough one," and handed one signing pen to the mother of a victim of the sex trade.

 Attorney General Morrisey-Backed Anti-Sex Trafficking Bill Signed Into Law

CHARLESTON —West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey backed federal legislation aimed at combating online sex trafficking as part of his broader focus on better identifying and ending human trafficking in the Mountain State.
 

The Attorney General commended President Trump for Wednesday’s signing of the legislation – Allow States and Victims to Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act of 2017 (FOSTA).

 

“This legislation promises to ensure citizens and children across the country are effectively protected from sex trafficking,” Attorney General Morrisey said. “It is my belief that states, localities and territories must retain authority to investigate and prosecute facilitators of child sex trafficking wherever they operate, including online.”

 

Attorney General Morrisey joined a bipartisan coalition of attorneys general last year in calling upon Congress to address concerns that the Communications Decency Act (CDA) was being used as a shield by those who profit from prostitution and crimes against children.

 

The intention of the CDA is to protect children from indecent material online. It was never intended to place facilitators of child sex trafficking outside the reach of law enforcement.

 

FOSTA amends the CDA to hold accountable online classified ad sites that promote and profit from human trafficking.

 

FOSTA enables prosecution of such websites, themselves. In particular, sites that knowingly feature sex ads for trafficked — and frequently, underage — persons can now be prosecuted due to reforms brought by FOSTA.

 

In some cases, courts had previously interpreted certain provisions of the CDA to provide immunity from state prosecution to sites such as the now shuttered Backpage.com.

 

Human trafficking is defined as commercial sex or labor that is induced by force, fraud or coercion. It is considered the fastest growing and second largest criminal industry in the world today, second only to drug trafficking according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

 

The West Virginia Attorney General’s Office is dedicated to fighting human trafficking and actively offers training to law enforcement officers and others on the subject. West Virginia’s increased rate of drug addiction, poverty and its large number of children in foster care make the state especially susceptible to human trafficking.

 

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Goodlatte Applauds the Enactment of Legislation to Combat Online Sex Trafficking
 
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, President Trump signed into law the Allow States and Victims to Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act(FOSTA), a product of the House Judiciary Committee. This legislation provides restitution for sex trafficking victims and enhances criminal penalties for websites that facilitate illegal prostitution or sex trafficking. House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) applauded the enactment of FOSTA in the statement below.
 
Goodlatte: “I applaud President Trump for signing into law legislation that combats the scourge of online sex trafficking. The Allow States and Victims to Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act is already having an immediate impact to end these terrible crimes. In the days after Congress passed FOSTA, numerous websites advertising prostitution shut down because of the strong criminal provisions contained in the bill. And this week, an indictment was unsealed in the District of Arizona charging the operators of Backpage.com with a variety of offenses, mainly focused on facilitating prostitution. This demonstrates why the House approach will be the most effective tool in the bill to allow state and local prosecutors to bring these types of charges against prostitution websites that host sex trafficking ads. FOSTA provides harsher penalties for bad actor websites that facilitate these horrendous criminal acts and it reaffirms, in the strongest terms, that selling women and girls is wrong and will not be tolerated. The enactment of FOSTA will make the internet safer, dismantle this insidious market, and prevent further victimization.”
 
What FOSTA does:
·         Holds Bad Actors Accountable: clarifies that section 230 of the CDA does NOT grant immunity to websites that facilitate sex trafficking
·         Creates a New Federal Crime: websites that have the intent to promote or facilitate illegal prostitution can be prosecuted under the new 18 U.S.C 2421A created by the bill
·         Increases Criminal Penalties: prosecutors can seek higher penalties for websites who promote the illegal prostitution of 5 or more persons or act with reckless disregard for the fact that sex trafficking occurs on their website
·         Enforces Existing Laws: allows state and local prosecutors to enforce sex trafficking statutes and the new 2421A
·         Provides Restitution for Victims: gives victims of sex trafficking a pathway to sue bad actor websites for conduct violating the new criminal law, 2421A
Background: The House Judiciary Committee last year held a hearing to review the impact of the Communications Decency Act on sex trafficking online. In December 2017, the Committee approved FOSTA by voice vote, and the House of Representatives approved it in February 2018.
 
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