Last week, President Trump signed into law the Allow States and Victims to Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act of 2017. Georgia Senator Johnny Isakson had been a co-sponsor of the Stop Enabling Sex Traffickers Act, which was incorporated into the final legislation. It passed by a vote of 97-2 – Ron Wyden (D-OR) and Rand Paul (R-KY) being the only Nays.
“The legislation signed into law by the president today is an important step toward holding perpetrators of the vile crime of online sex trafficking accountable and allowing victims to seek recourse,” said Isakson. “This legislation updates and strengthens our laws while keeping the internet open, and I’m glad that it is now law.”
The Act amends the Communications Act of 1934 to create an exception for sex trafficking, making it easier to target websites that knowingly or unknowingly facilitate human trafficking. Backpage was one prominent website that did so – and seven of its executives were just indicted in federal court in Arizona and state courts in California and Texas. It is now shut down.
Free speech advocates have expressed concerns about the unintended impact of the bill – likely prompting the nay vote from the libertarian Paul. And despite the shutdown of Backpage, there are numerous other websites that still perform the same services.
The legislation is perhaps particularly in Georgia, where the human trafficking problem is particularly bad largely thanks to the ease of logistics with Hartsfield-Jackson airport and the interstate system. One of the features that is so beneficial for the economy also ends up facilitating some of the worst crimes possible.
Georgia’s Attorney General Chris Carr, who has also focused on the human trafficking issue, said to the Daily Report “We greatly appreciate Senator Isakson’s dedication and leadership on this issue at the federal level,” Carr said. “America is united against this modern day form of slavery. The bill signed into law today is another tool to help us fight human trafficking online and root out the demand for this deplorable practice. Our office will work with the Department of Justice to see this law implemented and save future victims from the horror of human trafficking as we continue working together to Demand An End.”
In Fulton County, Commission Chairman Rob Pitts is taking new steps to eradicate the problem. He has created a new task force aimed at putting a dent in the business. “I was shocked and disgusted to learn that Atlanta remains one of the top cities in the nation for human trafficking and child prostitution,” said Chairman Pitts. “Children are the future of our community and we will not allow them to be treated as commodities.”
The final composition of the Task Force has yet to be announced but Pitts plans on bringing together a number of community leaders already involved in the issue. Sadly, in Atlanta there is no shortage of experts on the issue.