February 21, 2018
Contact: T.W. Arrighi
Rep. Mimi Walters’ Amendment Included In Major Sex Trafficking Legislation
Washington, DC – Today, the House Rules Committee announced that H.R. 1865, the Allow States and Victims to Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act (FOSTA) will be considered by the House of Representatives next week. This legislation, introduced by Congresswomen Mimi Walters (R-California), Ann Wagner (R-Missouri), and Carolyn Maloney (D-New York) would amend Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act of 1996 to make it easier for prosecutors to bring to criminal charges against websites that knowingly facilitate or promote sex trafficking. Updating and strengthening our Nation’s online sex trafficking laws will help law enforcement keep up with evolving methods of exploitation and hold responsible those who promote this illegal activity.
Included in FOSTA is an amendment authored by Rep. Walters that will help victims of sex trafficking seek justice. The Walters Amendment includes language from S. 1693, the Stop Enabling Sex Traffickers Act (SESTA), which would allow sex trafficking victims to pursue federal civil claims against websites that deliberately facilitate or support sex trafficking.
Regarding the legislation, Rep. Walters said, “Last year, a massive international sex trafficking ring that was using the Internet to sell sexual services was uncovered in the heart of my district, Irvine, California. Thousands of those ads were tracked through Backpage.com, including ads selling minors for commercial sex. Websites such as Backpage have become storefronts for this modern-day slave trade.
“The FOSTA-SESTA legislation will significantly help prosecutors crack down on websites that promote sex trafficking, while providing much needed recourse for the thousands of men, women, and children who are victims of this evil industry. I urge my colleagues to support this legislation and send a clear message that we will bring to justice those who facilitate and promote sex trafficking.
Said Rep. Ann Wagner, “Since day one, I have pushed for both criminal and civil tools to confront the horrific abuses of online sex trafficking. H.R. 1865 with the Walters Amendment is the most effective way to empower victims, equip state and local prosecutors, and ensure websites can no longer traffic children with impunity. I am thrilled that with the help of the Judiciary Committee, the Energy and Commerce Committee, House Leadership, and Congresswoman Walters, we are finally bringing a bill to the House floor that will protect the fundamental rights of victims of sex trafficking. Online trafficking is flourishing because there are no serious, legal consequences for the websites that profit from the exploitation of our most vulnerable. This FOSTA-SESTA package will give prosecutors the tools they need to protect their communities and give victims a pathway to justice.”
Said Rep. Carolyn Maloney, “For years, we have seen a disturbing increase of online ads selling trafficking victims and minors for sex. This activity is not only horrifying and downright evil, it is also unequivocally illegal. Congress must act to clarify that Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act was never meant to shield sex traffickers and give victims a pathway to justice. I’m proud to support this legislative package that will empower trafficking survivors and their families, and equip law enforcement with the tools they need to crack down on these horrendous crimes.”
Walters represents California’s 45th District and serves on the House Energy and Commerce Committee, and the House Committee on Ethics.