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Senate Committee Holds Hearing on Sex Trafficking

On September 19, the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation held a hearing on S. 1693, the Stop Enabling Sex Traffickers Act of 2017, sponsored by Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH). Also known as SESTA, the bill proposes to eliminate criminal immunity for internet platforms that “knowingly” facilitate sex trafficking.

The legislation stems from long term efforts to stop internet companies, such as Backpage.com, from facilitating sex trafficking (see The Source, 1/13/17). Sponsors of the bill argued that internet companies should be held liable for trafficking content posted by third parties, while witnesses opposed to the measure contended that SESTA could increase liability for internet platforms, such as Google and Facebook, that act in good faith.

The following witnesses testified:

  • Xavier Becerra, attorney general, State of California, former Member of Congress;
  • Eric Goldman, professor, Santa Clara University of Law;
  • Abigail Slater, general counsel, Internet Association; and
  • Yiota Souras, senior vice president and general counsel, National Center for Missing & Exploited Children.
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