This bill would amend Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act to allow state authorities to investigate and prosecute websites that facilitate sex trafficking under state sex trafficking or sexual exploitation of children laws. It would make it a federal crime for any person or entity (like Backpage.com) that publishes information in furtherance of a sex trafficking offense through knowing or reckless conduct, which would be punishable a criminal fine and up to 20 years imprisonment. Victims would be allowed to pursue damages and attorneys’ fees by filing a civil suit in U.S. district court.
Defendants would be able to assert that the promotion or facilitation of prostitution is legal in the area where it was targeted as an affirmative defense.
Enhanced penalties, including a fine and/or prison term of up to 25 years, would be established for a person who uses or operates a commercial facility to promote prostitution in one of the following aggravating circumstances: 1) promoting or facilitating the prostitution of five or more persons; or 2) acting with reckless disregard that such conduct contributes to sex trafficking.