It will take an act of Congress to put a stop to Internet classifieds that traffic women and children.
Backpage.com is the chief facilitator of advertisements for prostitution in the U.S. and is tied up in several court cases designed to stop it. In one case in California, Sacramento County Superior Court Judge Larry Brown dismissed 15 charges including pimping and conspiracy, but is allowing the government to pursue one charge: money laundering.
The National Center on Sexual Exploitation has been on the front lines of battling sexual exploitation in America for decades. Haley Halverson, NCOSE's director of advocacy and outreach, is very familiar with the case.
"The company has been ruled as basically immune for any liability for these charges because of the Communications Decency Act, which gives broad immunity to website publishers that are posting third-party content," she tells OneNewsNow. "[That] basically means Backpage isn't at fault in the eyes of the court, even though it's a virtual slavery auction."
There is a move in both houses of Congress to amend the Communications Decency Act. Sponsors of S.1693 and H.R.1865 argue that the CDA was never intended to protect trafficking of women and children online.
"What's interesting about this is that the tech industry is lobbying hard against it," Halverson says. "Even Google lobbyists have recently been blitzing Capitol Hill with emails – and Google funds many congressional campaigns and candidates."
She urges people opposed to trafficking to be a voice for those caught in modern-day slavery and contact their members of Congress to pass the bills.