(COLUMBUS, Ohio)— Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine today joined 49 other state and territorial attorneys general in a bi-partisan coalition urging Congress to affirm the authority of state, local, and territorial law enforcement to investigate and prosecute companies that profit from the promotion and facilitation of sex trafficking.
In a letter to Congress, the attorneys general ask representatives to amend the Communications Decency Act (CDA) of 1996 to clarify that states, localities, and territories have the authority to investigate and prosecute facilitators of child sex trafficking wherever they operate, including online.
“The proposed amended language to the Communications Decency Act will help to ensure that citizens and children are effectively protected throughout the entire country, in all courts,” said Attorney General DeWine. “The intention of the Communications Decency Act is to protect children from indecent material online. It was never intended to place facilitators of child sex trafficking outside the reach of law enforcement.”
Some courts have interpreted the current language in the CDA to only allow federal law enforcement – not state, local, or territorial authorities – the ability to take action against companies, such as online classified ad services, that actively profit from the promotion and facilitation of sex trafficking and crimes against children.
“Federal enforcement alone has proved insufficient to stem the growth in online promotion of child sex trafficking. Those on the front lines of the battle against the sexual exploitation of children – state and local law enforcement – must have clear authority to investigate and prosecute facilitators of these and other horrible crimes,” the attorneys general wrote. “It is both ironic and tragic that the CDA, which was intended to protect children from indecent material on the internet, is now used as a shield by those who profit from prostitution and crimes against children.”
The full letter is available on the Ohio Attorney General’s website.
In addition to Ohio, the following states and territories signed onto the letter: Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Delaware, District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Puerto Rico, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin, and Wyoming.