A Senate sex trafficking bill that has worried the tech industry now has the support of 60 co-sponsors, ensuring that the legislation will be able to bypass a filibuster.
Sens. Rob PortmanRobert (Rob) Jones PortmanOvernight Defense & National Security — Presented by Raytheon Technologies — Biden backtracks on Taiwan Top GOP senators want joint review of Afghan visa process Timken rolls out six-figure ad campaign, hits Fauci MORE (R-Ohio) and Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), the original sponsors of the bill, announced on Wednesday that the legislation had won over three more Republican senators: Mike RoundsMike RoundsSenate GOP signals they'll help bail out Biden's Fed chair The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - After high drama, Senate lifts debt limit Schumer frustrates GOP, Manchin with fiery debt ceiling speech MORE (S.D.), Richard ShelbyRichard Craig ShelbyBlack Hawk pilot shot down in Somalia jumps into Alabama Senate race Senate Democrats ditch Hyde amendment for first time in decades Senate Democrats unveil remaining spending bills, teeing up clash with Republicans MORE (Ala.) and Pat RobertsCharles (Pat) Patrick RobertsMcConnell gets GOP wake-up call Bob Dole, Pat Roberts endorse Kansas AG Derek Schmidt for governor Ex-Sen. Cory Gardner joins lobbying firm MORE (Kan.).
“Today is another important milestone in our fight to hold online sex traffickers accountable and help give trafficking survivors the justice they deserve,” Portman and Blumenthal said in a joint statement. “There continues to be strong bipartisan support and momentum for this bill, and behind our efforts to help ensure that sex traffickers are brought to justice.“
The two urged the Senate to vote on the bill as soon as possible.
The Stop Enabling Sex Traffickers Act (SESTA) would make it easier for prosecutors and victims to take legal action against websites that facilitate sex trafficking. But critics, including much of the tech industry, argue that it would also hurt legitimate online platforms by chipping away at the legal protections websites have when it comes to content posted by third parties.
SESTA’s tech critics have largely backed a competing House bill, Allow States and Victims to Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act (FOSTA), that they believe would leave their legal protections intact. Meanwhile, Portman, Blumenthal and some victims groups say it doesn’t go far enough in cracking down on bad actors online.
SESTA was unanimously approved by the Senate Commerce Committee in November and is currently awaiting a floor vote. Sen. Ron WydenRonald (Ron) Lee WydenClimate advocates turn sights on Wall Street Democrats scramble to reach deal on taxes Pelosi open to scrapping key components in spending package MORE (D-Ore.) had announced a public hold on the bill at the time, though it now likely has enough support to clear any procedural hurdles.