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Senate committee passes bill to stop online sex trafficking

An amendment to the Communications Decency Act aims to protect victims by allowing law enforcement to crack down on sites like Backpage.com.

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After passing the Senate Commerce Committee, new legislation to stop online sex trafficking will now go to the full Senate for a vote.

James Martin/CNET

The US Senate Commerce Committee voted unanimously Wednesday to pass legislation that could curb online sex trafficking.

The legislation would amend a section of the Communications Decency Act by including the Stop Enabling Sex Traffickers Act, S. 1693. The idea of the new act is to better empower state law enforcement officials to go after websites that enable sex trafficking.

Online sex trafficking is often perpetuated though sites like Backpage.com, which has classified advertising where people can solicit prostitutes. Many of the people on this website are trafficked women and children, according to the National Center on Sexual Exploitation.

Now that the bipartisan legislation has passed the Commerce Committee it will go to the full Senate for a vote.

"Congress is one step closer to passing the most important anti-trafficking legislation in nearly twenty years," Lisa L. Thompson, vice president of research and education at the National Center on Sexual Exploitation, said in a statement. "There is no change to federal law more urgent and necessary to fighting sex trafficking than a strong, but narrowly crafted, amendment to the Communications Decency Act."

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