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Crime

New Push To Stop Online Child Trafficking

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Backpage.com CEO and company founders were cleared of pimping charges by using the Communications Decency Act as a defense.

Suspected child sex trafficking has increased 846 percent from 2010 to 2015 according to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. This explosive number is mostly attributed to the internet. Ohio Senator Rob Portman thinks the Communications Decency Act of 1996 may be to blame.

The act protects internet companies from liability for what customers post on their sites. Websites, including Backpage.com, have been accused of knowingly facilitating sex trafficking by exploiting a loophole in the law. Portman's office found evidence that Backpage.com helped to create ads that would not raise suspicion, even when they may involve the exploitation of young children.

Now Portman and a bipartisan group of senators are introducing the Stop Enabling Sex Traffickers Act of 2017. The act would strip protections from websites that enable sex trafficking. Critics say the act could have unintended consequences that actually hurt victims, including children.

Here to discuss the act and the consequences of controlling online content are University of Dayton School of Law Professor Thaddeus Hoffmeister; and University of Dayton Interim Executive Director of the Human Rights Center Tony Talbott.

Thaddeus Hoffmeister and University of Texas Social Media Law Professor Ryan Garcia have published a book, "Social Media in a Nutshell," which explores the wide-ranging influence social media has on criminal investigations, jury selection and other aspects of our legal system.