Hoeven: President Signs Bipartisan Legislation to Help Prevent Online Sex Trafficking, Ensure Justice for Victims

Senator Cosponsored Provisions in Legislation to Hold Websites Accountable for Intentionally Promoting Sex Trafficking

WASHINGTON – Senator John Hoeven, a member of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, today announced that the president has signed into law bipartisan legislation to help prevent sex trafficking and ensure justice for victims. The bill includes key provisions that Hoeven cosponsored and close loopholes that websites like Backpage.com exploit. The bill also makes it a federal crime to own, manage or operate a website with the intent to promote or facilitate prostitution and sex trafficking.

“This legislation is the result of a two-year Senate investigation that found Backpage.com had knowingly and actively facilitated sex trafficking,” said Hoeven. “We’ve expanded federal liability and penalties for websites like Backpage.com that facilitate prostitution as well as empowered federal and state authorities to hold accountable websites that promote sex trafficking. At the same time, the bill is narrowly crafted to protect sites that unknowingly host illegal content. 

“Also, we have created a pathway for victims of sex trafficking to sue bad actor websites and provided for mandatory restitution. In this way, the legislation the president signed today will help address and curtail sex trafficking in the digital age.”

The legislation signed today aligns with Hoeven’s work on the Senate Appropriations Committee to support social service providers and state and local law enforcement in their work to combat human trafficking. The senator’s work includes securing a permanent Federal Bureau of Investigation presence in western North Dakota as well as annual funding for law enforcement training, equipment and personnel and victim services through the U.S. Department of Justice.