Bipartisan legislation to crack down on online child sex trafficking is putting Silicon Valley tech companies and California’s two Democratic senators on the spot, as proponents of the legislation try to rewrite a section of a 21-year-old law that the companies argue has been the foundation of the Internet’s growth.
At a Senate Commerce Committee hearing Tuesday, Yvonne Ambrose, the mother of a 16-year sex trafficking victim who was found murdered near Chicago after being advertised for sale on the website Backpage.com, broke down in sobs after pleading with lawmakers to change the law “that is standing in the way of justice for my child.”
The Stop Enabling Sex Trafficking Act by Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, would allow criminal prosecution and civil lawsuits against websites that promote online trafficking. Currently, Internet companies such as Google are not held liable for content posted by third parties, unless the Justice Department brings suit.
Siding with Silicon Valley, Sen. Kamala Harris and Sen. Dianne Feinstein are not supporting the bill.