On July 24, the National Association of Attorneys General publicly released a letter to Congress advocating that the Communications Decency Act be amended to grant criminal jurisdiction to state and local governments. Part of the Telecommunications Act of 1996, the Communications Decency Act regulates “obscene and indecent” material, and it criminalizes the transmission of this material to minors.
Online classified ad sites make millions of dollars each month from sex ads. These sites have created a marketplace for prostitution; they have also unfortunately created more avenues for child sex trafficking and other sex crimes to occur.
Criminal jurisdiction of these websites is currently held by the federal government alone. The public letter to Congress has requested the rights for state and local governments to be able to investigate classified ad websites in order to prevent aiding and abetting prostitution or other similar crimes. Federal prosecutions have not occurred because it is difficult to establish that these sites are knowingly promoting child sex trafficking or prostitution. Forced prostitution, child sex trafficking, and other similar crimes are state and local crimes; therefore, giving state and local governments the ability to pursue investigations may help save more victims of these crimes.