New federal bill aimed to end online human trafficking

Published: Mar. 26, 2018 at 5:26 PM CDT
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A federal bill that aims to stop online human trafficking is getting mixed reactions by one anti- human trafficking group. The bill holds websites liable for people who misuse them for human trafficking.

The website would be subject to civil and criminal litigation. It passed overwhelmingly in the United States Senate last Wednesday. It also passed in the United States House last month. The bill is now awaiting President Trump's signature.

Craigslist has already gotten rid of their personals section because they say they can't risk people misusing it.

Teresa Davidson is the head of anti-human trafficking group out of Cedar Rapids called Chains Interrupted. She says the bill would empower sex trafficking survivors to speak out.

But she adds that legislation can't change behavior, and people may find different ways of human trafficking.

She says, “Perhaps that will make it harder to help the victims that we already know about and help them right now. There's the potential that this would go on an international website or a very, very underground site and be a little bit more difficult to find and prosecute."

Davidson says that concern is why it takes a community effort to stop trafficking.

Digital rights group Electronic Frontier Foundation has spoken out against the bill because they say it silences online free speech.