Congressman Pete Olson

Representing the 22nd District of Texas

Olson Acts to Combat Online Sex Trafficking

February 27, 2018
Press Release

WASHINGTON, DC– Rep. Pete Olson (TX-22) today acted to combat the increase in access to online sex trafficking and provide justice for victims of this heinous crime. Olson cosponsored and voted for H.R. 1865, the Allow States and Victims to Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act, which amends the Communications Decency Act (CDA) to make it easier for states to prosecute websites that facilitate online sex trafficking. Specifically, this bill clarifies that the CDA does NOT grant immunity to these bad actor websites and creates a new federal crime designation for websites that have the intent to promote or facilitate illegal prostitution. It increases criminal penalties for websites that promote the illegal prostitution of five or more people or recklessly disregard the fact that sex trafficking occurs on their website and provides a pathway for victims to sue bad actors for restitution. H.R. 1865 passed the House by a vote of 388-25 and now heads to the Senate for consideration.


“Sex trafficking is a horrific form of modern day slavery that affects families and communities across our country,” Rep. Pete Olson said. “While the Internet can be a great tool, it has been twisted to harm young women in ways never intended and we have a duty to ensure our laws catch up with technology to protect. For too long, websites like Backpage.com have avoided prosecution for the role they play in enabling sex trafficking on their sites. That ends now. This legislation ensures state and local prosecutors have the tools needed to hold these websites accountable and send the people that operate them to prison if they knowingly allow this heinous crime to occur. With improved enforcement of these laws, victims will have a better opportunity to obtain the justice they deserve.”

H.R. 1865 combats online sex trafficking by providing new tools to law enforcement to target criminal actor websites: 

  • H.R. 1865 creates a new federal anti-trafficking law to specifically target bad-actor websites, that have engaged in the promotion or facilitation of prostitution yet escaped criminal and civil liability
  • Under current law, interactive computer services, i.e. those that enable or provide access by multiple users to a computer server, are not treated as the publisher or speaker of information provided by another information content provider
  • This immunity has barred civil challenges even when the courts find that the interactive computer service has tailored its website to facilitate sex trafficking
  • The bill also provides aggravated penalties apply against individuals who:
    • Promote or facilitate the prostitution of 5 or more persons
    • Act in reckless disregard of conduct contributing to child sex trafficking
  • The bill also allows states to enforce state criminal laws that mirror the new federal law and current federal trafficking law


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Media Contact: Melissa Kelly 
202-225-5951