Senate sex trafficking bill wins 60 co-sponsors

Senate sex trafficking bill wins 60 co-sponsors
© Greg Nash

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 PortmanWhy Republicans are afraid to call a key witness in the impeachment inquiry Republicans warn election results are 'wake-up call' for Trump GOP lawmakers fear Trump becoming too consumed by impeachment fight 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 RoundsMarion (Mike) Michael RoundsHillicon Valley: Facebook launches 'News Tab' | Senate passes bill to take on 'deepfakes' | Schumer outlines vision for electric cars Senate passes legislation to combat 'deepfake' videos America's newest comedy troupe: House GOP MORE (S.D.), Richard ShelbyRichard Craig ShelbyLawmakers skeptical of progress on spending deal as wall battle looms On The Money: Trump appeals to Supreme Court to keep tax returns from NY prosecutors | Pelosi says deal on new NAFTA 'imminent' | Mnuchin downplays shutdown threat | Trump hits Fed after Walmart boasts strong earnings Overnight Health Care: Cigarette smoking rates at new low | Spread of vaping illness slowing | Dems in Congress push to block Trump abortion rule MORE (Ala.) and Pat RobertsCharles (Pat) Patrick RobertsEleven GOP senators sign open letter backing Sessions's comeback bid Pressure builds on Pompeo as impeachment inquiry charges ahead GOP lawmakers fear Trump becoming too consumed by impeachment fight 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.“

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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 WydenDemocratic senators introduce bill to block funding for border wall live stream Booker, Sanders propose new federal agency to control drug prices Hillicon Valley: Amazon to challenge Pentagon cloud contract in court | State antitrust investigation into Google expands | Intel agencies no longer collecting location data without warrant 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.