Sacramento, California - California Attorney General Xavier Becerra urged the U.S. Senate to vote to pass The Stop Enabling Sex Traffickers Act of 2017 following unanimous approval to move forward with the legislation by the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation. In September, Attorney General Becerra testified before Congress in support of the legislation, which would amend the Communications Decency Act of 1996 (CDA) and make clear the authority of state and local law enforcement agencies to investigate and prosecute companies that profit from sex trafficking and crimes against children.

“This bill is about protecting the most vulnerable in a new era of sex trafficking. We can’t deny that the internet plays a significant role in sex trafficking and has created virtual brothels where victims are bought and sold online,” said Attorney General Becerra. “Let’s give state and local law enforcement the clear authority to protect victims of trafficking from those who promote, facilitate and benefit from sex trafficking online.”

The Stop Enabling Sex Traffickers Act of 2017 (S. 1693), supported by 41 cosponsors, will help protect children and other vulnerable individuals from sex trafficking by amending the CDA. The CDA has been broadly interpreted by some courts to limit state and local authorities from prosecuting those who profit from the promotion and facilitation of sex trafficking online. 50 Attorneys General wrote to the Congress in support of this change.

Attorney General Becerra has aggressively targeted sex traffickers, including criminally prosecuting the owners of the website Backpage.com. While a recent court ruling allows the Attorney General to move forward against the defendants for 25 felony counts of conspiracy and money laundering, the court dismissed pimping charges based on the CDA.