In April 2018 President Trump signed the Stop Enabling Sex Traffickers Act — Fight online Sex Trafficking Act into Law. This act provides recourse for Prosecutors, State Attorney Generals and victims of sex trafficking within America to take legal action against websites who post ads for prostitution on their platforms.
Supporters of this act argue it will assist in combatting illegal sex trafficking, much of which involves children, and will eliminate an easy avenue for traffickers to profit.
The act has received bipartisan support within the US senate, and was also backed by major corporations such as Microsoft, Amazon and Netflix. The support also spread on a global level with UK MP Sarah Champion bringing the debate to the UK parliament suggesting they should also adopt similar laws.
Whilst this act is only binding within US borders its effect can be felt all around world, including Australia.
Many sites prostituted people use to promote their services are US based; sites such as ‘backpage’ and ‘cracker.’ These sites are now subject to criminal liability if individuals post ads for prostitution on their platforms. This in turn can also assist in curtailing trafficking and exploitation which occurs within Australian borders, however the ability for Australian prostituted people to promote their services has also diminished. Australian ‘sex worker’ Summer* is quoted as saying it has had a “huge effect” and she is now in fear that she will be booted from twitter, and fellow industry worker Raven* who frequently has short notice but high volume bookings has seen “her client list halved” as a result of SESTA-FOSTA.
Will this act actually decrease trafficking and sexual exploitation? Only time will tell.