WASHINGTON, D.C. - Those willing to flaunt the law and pay for sex can often find what they want with just a few clicks.
But many of the women advertised online are victims, kidnapped and held captive.
Many are under age and forcibly drugged.
“The stories are just tragic.”
If caught, sex-traffickers can be charged, but not websites through which they advertise.
Ohio’s Republican Senator – Rob Portman — is proposing a bill to crack down on those who intentionally turn a blind-eye to shady online postings.
“Every day that goes by, there are more people being trafficked online who see their lives getting derailed.”
Portman hopes a vote on the bill will come soon.
Thirty bipartisan colleagues have signed-on.
“I think that this policy, like many anti-trafficking pieces of legislation in the past, is symbolic in nature.”
Kim Mehlman-Orozco frequently testifies as an expert witness for the prosecution in sex trafficking cases.
She says history and her research suggest Portman's bill will not cut into trafficking, but merely push ads into the dark web or overseas, beyond the reach of U.S. law enforcement.
“Making them harder to identify, harder to prosecute and harder to rescue victims.”
Portman counters that law enforcement groups – like the Fraternal Order of Police and 50 U.S. Attorneys General – support his bill.
A few web sites are on-board – but not internet giants Facebook and Google.
Google directed us to the Internet Association who say they’re concerned the legislation is overly-broad.
“Look, they said they have concerns about internet freedom. There’s nothing in this legislation that would affect my freedom as an internet user, unless I’m assisting people in trafficking.”
Portman spear-headed five pieces of legislation last session aimed at cutting off sex-trafficking.
This is his first directed at the web.