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AG Gansler Presses Congress for Vital State and Local Tools to FightInternet Prostitution and Child Sex Trafficking
Bipartisan AG coalition calls for amendments to the Communications Decency Act

Baltimore, MD ( July 24, 2013) - Attorney General Douglas F. Gansler, joined by a bipartisan national coalition of 48 other attorneys general, called on Congress to strengthen the law and give state and local prosecutors more tools to combat prostitution and child sex trafficking. In a letter to key members of Congress, Attorney General Gansler advocated for amendments to the Communications Decency Act, providing criminal jurisdiction to state and local authorities.

"As technology evolves, so too do criminals' efforts to abuse it and we need modernized laws and sufficient local criminal authority to meet the growing challenge of Internet-based prostitution and child sex trafficking," said Attorney General Gansler. "Maryland prosecutors must have every tool possible to strike back against those who promote the sexual exploitation of children and adults."

The Communications Decency Act of 1996 was drafted when the Internet was in its infancy. Its original purpose was to protect children from accessing indecent material online, but courts have interpreted certain provisions of the Act to provide immunity from state prosecution for online classified ad sites, such as Backpage.com, that promote and profit from prostitution and human trafficking.

Absent interstate travel, federal property or the involvement of a minor, prostitution is a local crime, not a federal crime. While the Communications Decency Act (CDA) provides criminal authority to the federal government, Attorney General Gansler believes Congress needs to act to ensure that the CDA does not prevent states from exercising their criminal jurisdiction to address the growing number of local crimes that currently elude prosecution.

In the letter to members of Congress, the bipartisan group of attorneys general write:

"As online advertising of child prostitution goes unchecked, sex traffickers are able to expand their businesses, magnifying the scope of the problem. In the last few months alone, law enforcement agencies throughout the nation have linked sex-trafficking operations to internet advertisers."

Across the nation, local prosecutors report that online prostitution solicitations have grown significantly in recent years. Backpage.com, for example, generates an estimated $3 million to $4 million per month in revenue. Recent Backpage.com-related prosecutions are outlined in the letter.

To view the letter visit: http://www.oag.state.md.us/Press/CDA_Sign_On_Letter.pdf

   

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