February 28, 2018

Statement by Donna Rice Hughes, CEO and President, Enough Is Enough® on Historic Bi-Partisan Passage of The Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act

Great Falls, VA. – A historic 388 to 25 vote late yesterday to pass H.R.1865, the Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act of 2017 (FOSTA) on the House floor put survivors of sex trafficking one significant step closer to seeking the justice they have so long sought from websites like backpage.com that knowingly exploit women and children for financial gain by serving as a brothel for online advertisements for traffickers and pimps. 

FOSTA sends a strong message to federal courts who have for far too long misinterpreted Congress’s original intent of section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, allowing such websites to be shielded from claims of sex trafficking victims while profiting to the tune of millions. The overwhelming bi-partisan vote is a critical step towards draining the cyber-swamp of commercial sexploitation by the sellers and buyers of women and children and the companies who shield them.

Enough Is Enough® applauds the commitment of the U.S. House of Representatives for coming to a speedy resolution on the combined package which includes FOSTA, plus Walter’s SESTA package. FOSTA, (H.R. 1865 - sponsored by Rep. Ann Wagner [R-Mo.]) with an amendment offered by Rep. Mimi Walters (R-Calif.) adding in the language of SESTA (S. 1693 sponsored by Sen. Rob Portman [R-Ohio][O1]  and Richard Blumenthal [D-Con.]). This monumental vote brings trafficking survivors one step closer to being able to pursue civil and criminal litigation against their exploiters, as well as the opportunity for state attorneys general to present and prosecute cases on their behalf.

It’s time to move this bill forward to the Senate with a matter of urgency, which has already offered unprecedented bipartisan support of 67 Senate co-sponsors. Each day that passes by represents a day that countless women and children are exploited in the most unimaginable and degrading fashion. Enough Is Enough® joins with survivors, state attorneys generals and advocacy groups in saying that we will not stand by idly while website executives line their pockets at the expense of those they abuse. 

Yesterday’s vote represents significant progress. Now it’s time to listen once and for all to the voices of trafficking survivors who are desperately seeking justice, and eliminate the federal liability protections for the greedy masterminds behind the websites that place profit over human dignity.