Attorney General Dustin McDaniel announced Wednesday that he and his counterparts from across the country have called on Congress to amend federal law to give state and local authorities additional tools to effectively fight child sex trafficking and prostitution.
In a letter to congressional leaders, the bipartisan coalition of 49 attorneys general asked Congress to strengthen the Communications Decency Act to allow for state and local prosecutions of Internet sites that promote and profit from human trafficking. The original purpose of the Act was to protect children from accessing indecent material online, but courts have interpreted provisions of the law to block state and local actions against classified ad sites such as backpage.com.
“Prosecutors at the local level should have the ability to pursue those that would help facilitate child sexual exploitation and human trafficking,” McDaniel said. “I am glad to join with my colleagues to encourage Congress to modernize federal law and allow state and local authorities to strike back against those who use technology to harm our children.”
According to local prosecutors nationwide, prostitution solicitations have largely moved online. Backpage.com, for example, generates an estimated $3 million to $4 million per month in revenue.
McDaniel said the Communications Decency Act is being used “as a shield by those who intentionally profit from prostitution and crimes against children,” and that federal enforcement alone has been insufficient to stem the growth of child sex trafficking facilitated through online advertisements.
As online advertising of prostitution goes unchecked, sex traffickers are expanding their business and magnifying the scope of the problem, McDaniel said.