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October 20, 2014

Miller, State AGs Urge Senate Judiciary Committee to Support Act Targeting Online Child Sex Trafficking

SAVE Act would provide more oversight of websites that facilitate Internet child sex trafficking

(DES MOINES, Iowa) Attorney General Tom Miller today urged members of the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee to support legislation that would help prevent children from being trafficked on the Internet.

In a letter joined by a bipartisan group of attorneys general from 49 states, Miller asked members of the Senate Judiciary Committee to support the Stop Advertising Victims of Exploitation Act (SAVE) Act (S. 2536), which would provide more oversight of websites that facilitate “adult services,” such as Backpage.com.

The use of the “adult services sections” on Backpage and other sites has created virtual brothels where children are bought and sold as “escorts.”  The SAVE Act would require these websites, which facilitate trafficking, to take steps to verify the identity of individuals posting advertisements and the age of those who appear in these advertisements.

“Our office is part of a state task force that investigates online child human trafficking cases, and our prosecutors have filed charges in court,” Miller said.  “We know it happens here in Iowa and across the country, and this legislation would help us combat the sexual exploitation of children.”

Human Trafficking: $150 Billion Worldwide Criminal Industry
Human trafficking is the fastest-growing criminal industry in the world, generating about $150 billion each year, according to a report this year by the International Labour Organization.  Nearly 300,000 American youths are at risk of becoming victims of commercial sexual exploitation, according to a University of Pennsylvania study in 2001.

On June 23, the FBI announced  the results of “Operation Cross Country,” a nationwide law enforcement crackdown that led to charges against 281 alleged sex traffickers and took 168 children out of prostitution.  The operation uncovered evidence of child victims offered for sale on websites that advertise “escort” and “adult services.”

“Federal courts have recognized that the Internet has become a favored means for advertising children for sex,” Miller said.  “The Internet facilitates and finances human traffickers, especially those who peddle children, and the SAVE Act will give us another tool to help us fight it.”

Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vermont) is the Senate Judiciary Committee chair and Sen. Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) is ranking member.

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