Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt today joined a bi-partisan national coalition of 49 Attorneys General calling on Congress to amend federal law to help states fight prostitution and child sex trafficking online.
In a letter to key members of Congress, the Attorneys General advocated that Congress amend the Communications Decency Act to allow criminal jurisdiction for state and local prosecutors.
The Communications Decency Act of 1996 was drafted when the internet was in its infancy. The original purpose of the Act was to protect children from accessing indecent material online, but courts have interpreted certain provisions of the Act to provide immunity from State prosecution to online classified ad sites, such as Backpage.com, that promote and profit from human trafficking.
“Federal law needs to be modernized to make sure we can prosecute those who use technology to exploit vulnerable victims,” Schmidt said. “Local prosecutors should be on the front lines of this battle.”
Absent interstate travel, federal property, or the involvement of a minor, prostitution is not a federal crime. While the Communications Decency Act provides criminal authority to the federal government, the Attorneys General believe that criminal jurisdiction needs to be extended to help states combat these crimes.
Federal, state and local prosecutors report that prostitution solicitations have largely moved online.