Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.) along with U.S. Senators Kamala D. Harris (D-Calif.), Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii), and Cory Booker (D-N.J.) announced their support of the bipartisan Stop Enabling Sex Traffickers Act (SESTA), a bill to crack down on sex trafficking and ensure justice for victims.
“Sex trafficking is a despicable crime that is too often facilitated by nefarious websites like Backpage,” said the senators. “These companies knowingly profit off the pain of others and must be held accountable. This legislation ensures victims receive their day in court and empowers state attorneys general to seek justice. We applaud the hard work of the bill’s authors and are proud to join in support.”
SESTA was written in response to a two-year Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations (PSI) inquiry 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 report from the subcommittee can be found here.
The bill would allow victims of sex trafficking to seek justice against websites that knowingly facilitated the crimes against them and eliminate federal liability protections for websites that assist, support, or facilitate a violation of federal sex trafficking laws. In addition, the law would 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.