Senate passes Brown, Portman bill on human trafficking

Staff reports

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Senate has passed the bipartisan Stop Enabling Sex Traffickers Act, co-sponsored by U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH). Brown joined U.S. Sen. Rob Portman’s (R-OH) bill to ensure justice for victims of sex trafficking and ensure that websites like, which knowingly facilitate sex trafficking, can be held liable and brought to justice.

“We need to remain vigilant in rooting out human trafficking wherever it occurs,” Brown said. “I’m glad to join Sen. Portman as we pass legislation to bring traffickers to justice – no matter how they commit this heinous crime.”

The bipartisan Stop Enabling Sex Traffickers Act would clarify Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act to ensure that websites that knowingly facilitate sex trafficking can be held liable so that victims can get justice. This narrowly-crafted legislation offers three reforms to help sex trafficking victims. The bipartisan bill would:

Allow victims of sex trafficking to seek justice against websites that knowingly facilitated the crimes against them;

Eliminate federal liability protections for websites that knowingly assist, support or facilitate a violation of federal sex trafficking laws; and

Enable state law enforcement officials, not just the federal Department of Justice, to take action against individuals or businesses that violate federal sex trafficking laws.

Brown has also introduced the Protecting Rights of Those Exploited by Coercive Trafficking (PROTECT) Act, legislation that would specifically address the use of drugs to facilitate human trafficking and protect vulnerable victims of trafficking. Brown’s legislation is also co-sponsored by Portman and Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX).

The PROTECT Act would amend existing human trafficking law to specify that the use of drugs or illegal substances to cause a person to engage in a commercial sex act or forced labor constitutes a form of coercion. The PROTECT Act also contains a provision to protect trafficking victims from prosecution, recognizing that victims are often forced to commit crimes.

Staff reports