Tester Votes to Empower Survivors of Human Trafficking, Bring Criminals to Justice

Senator Helps Pass the Bipartisan Legislation to Ensure Online Human Traffickers are Charged and Prosecuted

(U.S. Senate) – U.S. Senator Jon Tester today voted to empower survivors of human trafficking and bring criminals to justice.

Tester helped pass the bipartisan legislation to bring down the barriers that keep law enforcement officers from arresting and prosecuting criminals who promote sex trafficking online.

“Human trafficking is 21st century slavery,” Tester said. “The folks who hide in the shadows and facilitate human trafficking from their keyboards must face the full force of justice. This bill shines light in the corners to stomp out traffickers who have been tearing families apart for too long.”

The Allow States and Victims to Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act gives law enforcement the ability to prosecute websites that intentionally facilitate prostitution. Courts have continuously ruled in favor of current federal laws that protect website operators who conduct human trafficking and illegal activity online. As a result, many websites that knowingly facilitate human trafficking are able to do so with no legal repercussions.

Tester’s vote changes the law and ensures that websites that facilitate sex trafficking can be held liable in court and that the victims can seek justice.

As a member of the Senate Homeland Security Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, Tester questioned Carl Ferrer, the CEO of the controversial website Backpage.com, about his company’s role in human trafficking. Backpage.com is a classified advertising site that became an online hub for human trafficking.

After his fight with Backpage.com, Tester sponsored the Stop Enabling Sex Traffickers Act with the other members of the Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations. This bipartisan bill was a direct response to Backpage.com’s ability to avoid accountability for their facilitation of human trafficking.

Tester’s Stop Enabling Sex Traffickers Act was included in the Allow States and Victims to Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act, and as a result of this legislation, website operators of pages like Backpage.com can be held accountable to the full extent of the law.

The legislation passed the Senate 97-2.