U.S. Sen. Mark S. Kirk (R-Ill.) is introducing legislation aimed at websites that he claims are promoting sex trafficking.
The Stop Advertising Victims of Exploitation, or SAVE Act, would make it illegal to post online ads for prostitutes. Kirk claims sites like Backpage.com, which allows those ads on its “adult services” section, are funding an industry where children are kidnapped and forced into prostitution.
Kirk says the owners of that site, Michael Lacey and Jim Larkin, are the top facilitators of sex trafficking in the United States. “We’re naming names and we’re being very specific, (because) I think if Lacey and Larkin got out of this business, we would really help lower human trafficking rates,” Kirk said.
Kirk is also introducing bills dealing with how victims of trafficking are treated by law enforcement, as well as establishing support programs for those victims.
Kirk says under current law, sites like Backpage are protected simply because they’re online. Another online classifieds site, Craigslist, once had a similar “adult services” section, but voluntarily shut it down in 2010 over concerns about sex trafficking.