Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, spoke to Yahoo Global News Anchor Katie Couric on Thursday about his ongoing efforts to combat online sex trafficking ahead of this week’s premiere of the documentary “I Am Jane Doe.” The film spotlights victims of online child sex trafficking and the legal challenges to holding websites like Backpage.com responsible for facilitating such activity.
As chairman of the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, Portman led a bipartisan investigation into Backpage. The probe concluded that the classifieds site had knowingly enabled online sex trafficking that involved underage girls. The Ohio lawmaker has praised the documentary for raising awareness of human trafficking.
“This is something that’s affecting communities all over our country,” said Portman, noting that his home state of Ohio “happens to be a state that’s pretty hard hit.”
Portman described sites like Backpage as part of the “dark side of the Internet” which, he argues, is actually “increasing the human trafficking problem by making it more efficient, making it easier by doing it online.”
He told Couric he hopes to change U.S. law in regard to online forums like Backpage to ensure that “if you do engage in that kind of activity that there should be some liability.”
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