Utah Attorney General John Swallow today joined a bi-partisan national coalition of 49 state and territorial attorneys general calling on Congress to amend the law to help fight prostitution and child sex trafficking. In a letter to key members of Congress, the Attorneys General advocated that Congress amend the Communications Decency Act to provide criminal jurisdiction to state and local prosecutors.
“The federal law needs to be brought up to date so state and local prosecutors have the necessary tools to strike back at predators using technology to sexually exploit children,” says Swallow.
The Communications Decency Act (CDA) of 1996 was drafted when the internet was in its infancy. The original purpose of the act was to protect children from accessing indecent material online, but courts have interpreted certain provisions of the law to provide immunity from state prosecution to online classified ad sites, such as Backpage.com, that promote and profit from human trafficking.
“It is ironic that the CDA, which was intended to protect children from indecent material on the internet, is now used a shield by those who intentionally profit from prostitution and crimes against children,” states the letter. “Those on the front lines of the battle against the sexual exploitation of children—-state and local law enforcement—must be granted the authority to investigate and prosecute those who facilitate these horrible crimes.”
Law enforcement authorities are finding that most prostitution solicitations are happening online. Backpage.com, for example, generates an estimated $3 million to $4 million per month in revenue.
Prostitution is a local crime. Absent interstate travel, federal property, or the involvement of a minor, prostitution is not a federal crime. While the CDA provides criminal authority to the federal government, the attorneys general believe criminal jurisdiction needs to be extended to help combat these crimes.
The letter was signed by the attorneys general of the following states and territories: list of states Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Guam, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virgin Islands, Washington, West Virginia, and Wyoming.
The full letter can be found here: http://bit.ly/17EPT6h
For Immediate Release
July 24, 2013