National Association of Attorneys General

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AGs to Congress: Amend Federal Law to Fight Child Sex Trafficking

July 24, 2013

Washington, DC---The National Association of Attorneys General (NAAG) called on Congress to amend the Communications Decency Act (CDA) of 1996 in order to grant criminal jurisdiction to state and local governments. If enacted, the amendment would allow state and local governments to criminally investigate and prosecute online classified ad sites that promote prostitution and child sex trafficking.

The CDA’s original purpose was to protect children from accessing indecent material online, but courts have recently interpreted certain provisions to provide immunity from state prosecution to online classified ad sites, such as Backpage.com, that profit from human trafficking. Local prosecutors report that prostitution solicitations, including advertising child sex trade victims, have largely moved online.

“Federal enforcement alone has proven insufficient to stem the growth of internet-facilitated child sex trafficking,” reads a July 23 NAAG letter signed by 49 state and territorial attorneys general. It was sent to the chairmen and ranking members of the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation and House Committee on Energy and Commerce. “Those on the front lines of the battle against the sexual exploitation of children---state and local law enforcement---must be granted the authority to investigate and prosecute those who facilitate these horrible crimes.”

A copy of the NAAG letter can be found here: http://www.naag.org/sign-on_archive.php.

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The National Association of Attorneys General (NAAG), www.naag.org, was founded in 1907 to help attorneys general fulfill the responsibilities of their office and to assist in the delivery of high quality legal services to the states and territorial jurisdictions.

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Tim Fox, Montana Attorney General

Tim Fox, the Montana attorney general, has worked in public service since 1990.