WASHINGTON, D.C. (Nov. 8, 2017) – Polaris, a leader in the global fight to eradicate modern slavery and help survivors restore their freedom, applauded the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation today for passing the Stop Enabling Sex Traffickers Act (SESTA) of 2017 out of committee and sending it to the full Senate for consideration. The bill takes steps to ensure websites that knowingly facilitate sex trafficking can be held liable. Polaris has been a leader in exploring the ways the anti-human trafficking field and the technology community can come together and find a solution to effectively combat sex trafficking and help survivors while protecting first amendment Internet freedoms.
SESTA was introduced by U.S. Senators Rob Portman (R-OH) and Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), and ushered through the Commerce Committee by Chairman John Thune (R-SD) and Ranking Member Bill Nelson (D-FL).
“We are thankful changes have been made to SESTA that put pressure specifically where it needs to be—on websites facilitating sex trafficking. We are grateful to Senators Portman, Blumenthal, Thune, and Nelson, as well as their staffs, for their leadership on this issue. We strongly urge the Senate to pass this bill,” said Joe Racalto, Polaris’s Senior Policy Advisor.
“For too long, websites facilitating sex trafficking have exploited women, men, and children online, unimpeded. Polaris has worked for years to drive a consensus-based approach between technology and victims’ rights communities, calling for solutions that will withstand a constitutional test so legislative action is permanent. That way, the number of people being exploited online is reduced in the long term and victims can seek justice against the websites that have carelessly disregarded the abuse occurring on their platforms.”
The National Human Trafficking Hotline, which is operated by Polaris, has received nearly 2,000 reports of sex trafficking that were facilitated through online advertisements. SESTA enables state law enforcement officials to take legal action against individuals or businesses that violate federal sex trafficking laws without inadvertently affecting good actors that are not knowingly facilitating sex trafficking. Importantly, SESTA also clarifies that victims of sex trafficking can seek civil remedy against the websites that facilitated their victimization.
People can receive help or report a tip of suspected human trafficking in the United States by calling the National Human Trafficking Hotline at 1-888-373-7888 or by sending a text to Polaris at “BeFree” (233733).
Polaris is a leader in the global fight to eradicate modern slavery. Named after the North Star that guided slaves to freedom in the U.S., Polaris acts as a catalyst to systemically disrupt the human trafficking networks that rob human beings of their lives and their freedom. By working with government leaders, the world’s leading technology corporations, and local partners, Polaris equips communities to identify, report, and prevent human trafficking. Our comprehensive model puts victims at the center of what we do – helping survivors restore their freedom, preventing more victims, and leveraging data and technology to pursue traffickers wherever they operate. Learn more at www.polarisproject.org.