Child trafficking is a growing problem in the United States, with thousands of children being forced into sexual exploitation each year. Despite the efforts of law enforcement and advocacy groups, the problem persists. One of the main reasons for this is the presence of laws and bills that make it harder to fight against child trafficking.
In this blog post, we will explore some of the laws and bills that are hindering efforts to combat child trafficking, and discuss what can be done to address these challenges.
The Communications Decency Act (CDA)
The Communications Decency Act (CDA) was enacted in 1996 with the aim of regulating the content of the internet, particularly with regards to indecent and obscene materials. The act provides immunity to internet service providers (ISPs) for content posted by third parties, effectively shielding them from liability for any illegal activities taking place on their platforms.
This provision has been used to protect online platforms that are known to facilitate human trafficking, such as Backpage.com, from being held accountable for their role in enabling child trafficking. This legal loophole has made it difficult for law enforcement to prosecute online platforms that facilitate human trafficking, and has allowed these platforms to continue operating with impunity.
The Stop Enabling Sex Traffickers Act (SESTA) and the Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act (FOSTA)
The Stop Enabling Sex Traffickers Act (SESTA) and the Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act (FOSTA) were enacted in 2018 with the aim of addressing the problem of online sex trafficking. These acts were designed to amend the CDA and make it easier for law enforcement to prosecute online platforms that facilitate sex trafficking.
However, there has been criticism of these acts, with some arguing that they have had unintended consequences that have made it harder to combat sex trafficking. Critics argue that these acts have forced online platforms to engage in greater censorship of their content, and have made it more difficult for advocacy groups to reach out to trafficking victims.
In addition, some argue that these acts have led to an increase in street-based prostitution and exploitation, as online platforms that previously facilitated prostitution have been forced to shut down, leading to the displacement of sex workers.
Immigration policies have also been a challenge in the fight against child trafficking. Undocumented immigrants are particularly vulnerable to being exploited and trafficked, as they are often afraid to seek help from law enforcement due to fear of deportation.
The Trump administration's "zero tolerance" policy, which resulted in the separation of families at the border, also made it more difficult to identify and support trafficking victims. The separation of families made it harder for law enforcement to track the movements of families, increasing the risk that children could be exploited and trafficked.
In addition, the administration's attempts to eliminate the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program has put the children of undocumented immigrants at risk of exploitation and trafficking. The program provides protection to children who were brought to the U.S. illegally as minors, and without it, these children are at risk of being deported to countries where they may face exploitation and trafficking.
Child Protection Act
The Child Protection Act is a law that was enacted in 2012 with the aim of protecting children from sexual exploitation. The act provides for the mandatory reporting of child pornography and exploitation, and imposes harsh penalties on individuals who engage in these activities.
However, there has been criticism of the law, with some arguing that it has been used to prosecute individuals who were not engaged in child exploitation. Critics argue that the law has been used to prosecute individuals who were not aware that they were in possession of child pornography, or who were not aware that the individuals depicted in the images were minors.
This has led to concerns that the law is being used to prosecute individuals who may not be guilty of any wrongdoing, while allowing actual traffickers to escape punishment. Critics argue that the law needs to be revised to ensure that it is only used to prosecute those who are actually engaged in child exploitation.
What Can Be Done?
The presence of laws and bills that make it harder to fight against child trafficking is a significant challenge, but it is not an insurmountable one. There are a number of steps that can be taken to address these challenges and make it easier to combat child trafficking.
One approach is to work towards the reform of laws such as the Communications Decency Act, which provide immunity to online platforms that facilitate human trafficking. This can involve working with lawmakers to develop new legislation that makes it easier to hold these platforms accountable, or working with advocacy groups to raise awareness about the issue.
In addition, efforts can be made to improve existing laws, such as the Child Protection Act, to ensure that they are being used effectively and not to prosecute innocent individuals. This can involve working with legal professionals to provide training and support, or developing new guidelines and protocols to ensure that the law is being used appropriately.
Another approach is to work towards the development of policies and regulations that promote the protection of vulnerable populations, such as undocumented immigrants. This can involve working with lawmakers to develop new policies that provide greater protections for undocumented immigrants and their families, or working with advocacy groups to raise awareness about the issue.
The presence of laws and bills that make it harder to fight against child trafficking is a significant challenge, but it is not an insurmountable one. By working together and taking a proactive approach, legal professionals, lawmakers, and advocacy groups can help to address these challenges and make it easier to combat child trafficking.
This can involve reforming existing laws, improving existing laws, or developing new policies and regulations that promote the protection of vulnerable populations. By working together, we can make a significant impact in the fight against child trafficking, and protect vulnerable children from exploitation and abuse.