Attorney General Olens has sent a letter urging members of the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee to support legislation that would help prevent children from being trafficked on the Internet.
Human trafficking is the fastest-growing criminal industry in the world, generating about $150 billion each year. Shockingly, there are numerous cases nationally of children being used in prostitution as young as 12. The FBI estimates that nearly 300,000 American youths are at risk of becoming victims of commercial sexual exploitation.
“As Attorney General, I have made fighting child sex trafficking a top priority,” said Attorney General Olens. “I was proud to work with the Georgia General Assembly to strengthen Georgia’s sex trafficking law so that the punishment fits the crime. Our law is now a national model. I urge Congress to pass this much needed legislation addressing this horrific crime, which robs our children of their dignity and innocence.”
In a letter signed by 53 attorneys general, Attorney General Olens is asking members of the Senate Judiciary Committee for their support of the Stop Advertising Victims of Exploitation Act (SAVE) Act (S. 2536), which would provide more oversight of websites that facilitate “adult services,” such as Backpage.com.
Attorney General Olens said federal courts have recognized that the Internet has become a favored means for advertising the availability of children for sex. Internet ads can be purchased in multiple locations with the click of a button.
This allows human traffickers to maximize their profit and evade detection by moving victims quickly to lucrative venues where there is significant demand for commercial sex. He said organized crime groups and street gangs use the Internet to sell their victims as well, which is why passage of the SAVE Act is particularly critical.
The use of the “adult services sections” on websites such as Backpage.com has created virtual brothels where children are bought and sold using euphemistic labels such as “escorts.” The SAVE Act would require these websites that are facilitating trafficking through their very business model to take steps to verify the identity of individuals posting advertisements and the age of those who appear in these advertisements.
In just one week this June, law enforcement arrested 281 alleged sex traffickers and took 168 children out of prostitution in a nationwide FBI crackdown where many child victims were offered for sale on “escort” and other “adult services” websites.
Preventing children from being trafficked on the Internet has been a long-term interest of the National Association of Attorneys General (NAAG). NAAG has taken several actions regarding Backpage.com and similar websites, including requesting that these exploitive websites shut down their “adult services” sections which fuel the online trafficking of youth.
The states and territories that signed the letter are: Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Guam, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Northern Mariana Islands, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Puerto Rico, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia and Wyoming.