It’s been a wide-open secret for years: pimps and traffickers using websites like BackPage to advertise women and children for sale. Law enforcement has turned to these sites to find criminals and victims but the prosecution of the internet companies has been largely out of the question.
The problem? A provision in the Communications Decency Act (CDA) that was intended to protect companies who acted in good faith to protect children from exploitation.
Donna Rice Hughes, an internet safety advocate and president of the non-profit Enough is Enough, even pushed for the legislation which passed in 1996, “the infancy of the internet” as she now recalls.
But since then, she and more than 100 anti-trafficking lobbyists say, tech companies have begun to use the law as a type of blanket immunity for anything that happened on their website.
“That was never the intent of Congress,” Hughes told CBN News.
Late Tuesday, the House overwhelmingly voted 388 to 25 to pass a bill that will begin to level the playing field by taking away that immunity and giving victims and prosecutors more power to sue.