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AG Derek Schmidt urges court to uphold federal law combatting sex trafficking

Release Date: Apr 30, 2019

TOPEKA – (April 30, 2019) – Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt is urging an appeals court to uphold a federal law giving prosecutors greater authority to take legal action against websites that host sex-trafficking advertisements.

Schmidt, along with 20 other state attorneys general, last week filed a legal brief in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit arguing the Court should reject a First Amendment free speech challenge to the Allow States and Victims to Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act (FOSTA). The legislation, signed into law by President Donald Trump last year, amended the Communications Decency Act (CDA) to prevent websites from claiming immunity from criminal and civil actions for hosting sex-trafficking advertisements. Since FOSTA was signed into law, several websites have been shut down or forced to stop accepting sex-trafficking advertisements.

In the brief, the state attorneys general note that in “its most recent Global Report on Trafficking in Persons, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime noted that ‘79 per cent of all detected trafficking victims are women and children.’ … FOSTA is a crucial statute in the fight against the scourge of sex-trafficking. Appellants’ efforts to have FOSTA invalidated would remove from the States a crucial tool in the battle to end modern-day slavery and bring its purveyors to justice.”

The case is Woodhull Freedom Foundation v. United States, No. 18-5298. A copy of the states’ brief is available at http://bit.ly/2PCQouu.  

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