|October 20, 2014
Contact: Whitney Ray
Phone: (850) 245-0150
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TALLAHASSEE, Fla.—Attorney General Pam Bondi today urged 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.
“Human traffickers will use any means available to exploit their victims, including the Internet, and I strongly urge members of Congress to support legislation that will provide more oversight of the websites used to advertise sex trafficking victims,” stated Attorney General Pam Bondi.
In a letter co-sponsored by the Indiana and Washington attorneys general, and joined by 51 other attorneys general, Attorney General Bondi asked 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.
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. 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.
The states and territories that signed today’s 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.
To view the letter, click here: http://myfloridalegal.com/webfiles.nsf/WF/JMEE-9Q3N45/$file/SAVELetter.pdf