Reported to House amended, Part I (02/20/2018) Allow States and Victims to Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act of 2017

(Sec. 2) This bill expresses the sense of Congress that section 230 of the Communications Act of 1934 was not intended to provide legal protection to websites that unlawfully promote and facilitate prostitution and contribute to sex trafficking. Section 230 limits the legal liability of interactive computer service providers or users for content they publish that was created by others.

(Sec. 3) The bill amends the federal criminal code to add a new section that imposes penalties—a fine, a prison term of up to 10 years, or both—on a person who uses or operates (or attempts to use or operate) a facility or means of interstate or foreign commerce to promote or facilitate the prostitution of another person.

Additionally, it establishes enhanced penalties—a fine, a prison term of up to 25 years, or both—for a person who uses or operates a facility of interstate or foreign commerce to promote or facilitate the prostitution of another person in one of the following aggravating circumstances: (1) promoting or facilitating the prostitution of five or more persons, or (2) acting with reckless disregard that such conduct contributes to sex trafficking.

A court must order mandatory restitution, in addition to other criminal or civil penalties.

A person injured by an aggravated offense may recover damages and attorneys’ fees in a federal civil action.

A defendant may assert, as an affirmative defense, that the promotion or facilitation of prostitution is legal in the jurisdiction where it was targeted.

(Sec. 4) The bill amends the Communications Act of 1934 to prohibit construing section 230 to limit state criminal charges for conduct: (1) that promotes or facilitates prostitution in violation of this bill, or (2) that constitutes child sex trafficking.

(Sec. 5) Additionally, it prohibits construing this bill to limit federal or state civil actions or criminal prosecutions that are not preempted by section 230 of the Communications Act of 1934.

Congress.gov https://www.congress.gov/bill/115th-congress/house-bill/1865

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