AG Hood Joins Effort Fighting Online Prostitution and Sex Trafficking

Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood announced today that has joined a bipartisan coalition of 49 state attorneys general calling on the U.S. Congress to amend the Communications Decency Act, a law that helps fight prostitution and child sex trafficking. In a letter sent to "key members of Congress," the coalition is asking that the amendment "provide criminal jurisdiction to state and local prosecutors," to prosecute websites that "promote and profit from human trafficking," Hood said in a release.

Hood said that the act, which Congress passed in 1996, "was drafted when the Internet was in its infancy." Though its original purpose was to protect children from accessing indecent material online, Hood said "courts have interpreted certain provisions to provide immunity from state prosecution to online classified ad sites, such as backpage.com."

Solicitations for prostitutes have largely moved online, the release states. Backpage.com, for example, generates an estimated $3 million to $4 million per month in revenue.

Hood's release points out that "prostitution is a local crime. Absent interstate travel, federal property, or the involvement of a minor, prostitution is not a federal crime. While the Communications Decency Act provides criminal authority to the federal government, the attorneys general believe that criminal jurisdiction needs to be extended to help combat these crimes.

“Federal law needs to be modernized to provide local prosecutors the tools to strike back against those who use technology to promote sexual exploitation of children,” Hood said.


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