Online Sex Trafficking Prevention Bill Passes Senate

Helping Protect Our Nation’s Most Vulnerable

Today U.S. Senator Lisa Murkowski voted in favor of the Allow States and Victims to Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act, which passed by a vote of 97-2. The bill gives power back to prosecutors, victims, and state attorneys by giving a clearer path to pursue legal action against website providers who are posting advertisements for sex workers, many of whom are actively caught up in sex trafficking. Senator Murkowski is an original co-sponsor of the Senate’s online trafficking prevention bill, Stop Enabling Sex Traffickers Act (SESTA.)

“There are many reasons why we need to deter the use of Internet resources by predators. This is legislation for the protection of our children, the most vulnerable among us. In recent years we’ve seen a notable increase in sex trafficking, specifically the trafficking of children. There is no doubt that these rising numbers are linked to an increase in technology use and online activity. So, as technology evolves, we must ensure that our legislation also continues to develop in a way that holds human traffickers fully accountable for their actions,” said Senator Murkowski. “This legislation allows State Officials and Federal Prosecutors to be tougher on the criminals responsible for these horrific acts and helps bring justice to the victims of these devastating crimes.”

Prior to passage of the legislation, Senator Murkowski spoke on the Senate floor to urge her colleges to pass the sex trafficking prevention bill to protect Native women and girls from predators, citing reports of alarming high rates of Alaska Native sex trafficking victims. 

“I have been talking about the trafficking of Native women and girls for as long as I have been in the Senate. Over the past 15 years there is something that has changed though, the Internet means that predators don’t need to lurk in the shadows on the street corners anymore. And even though Internet coverage in Alaska isn’t what it is in the big cities of the Lower 48, the FBI confirms the Internet is used to recruit girls for sex trafficking in my state, said Senator Murkowski. “There is urgency to keep Native women and girls away from the predators. And while turning off the Internet “on ramp” to recruitment may not completely solve the problem, it is a worthy effort in its own right. Enough is enough! It is time that we attack the problem of sex trafficking at the source. And that means doing all we can to make the Internet a very inhospitable place for the sex trafficker and those who enable the immoral and disgusting trade in our fellow human beings.”

Click here for video of Senator Murkowski’s speech.

Click here for text of Senator Murkowski’s speech.

Background: In October 2017, Senator Murkowski cosponsored the Savanna’s Act, which combats the epidemic of murdered and missing Native women and girls by improving the federal government’s response to addressing the crisis.

Related Issues: Alaska Natives & Rural Alaska