Our main goal with federal legislation is to help close the loopholes that allow companies like Backpage.com to make millions of dollars from advertising the trafficking of children. If you have not seen the movie “I Am Jane Doe”, we highly recommend you do so as it spells out the legal arguments much better than we can.
The problem with closing these loopholes is to not inadvertently limit free speech and protections for third party communication companies that are listed under Section 230 of the Communication Decency Act (CDA).
Our argument is that CDA was meant to protect companies like Google or Facebook from being held liable for comments that people are saying on their sites. However, in our opinion, when you accept money and approve ads (like Backpage does) you are no longer an innocent third party but are an active member in the transaction.
Right now, there are two bills before Congress that address this problem. S. 1693 (also known as the Stop Enabling Sex Traffickers Act) and H.R. 1865 (also known as the Allow States and Victims to Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act). Neither Senators Baldwin or Johnson have signed on as sponsors of SB 1693 and Congressmen Kind and Duffy are not sponsors of HB 1865. Our office has spoken with representatives of Baldwin’s and Kind’s offices and they are considering the exact language to determine if they will support these bills or not. We have not received a response from Johnson’s or Duffy’s offices.