President Donald Trump signed a bill Wednesday aimed at curbing online sex trafficking and permitting victims of sex trafficking to sue online platforms that knowingly facilitated it, CNN News reported.
Advocacy group Polaris estimates the total number of online sex trafficking victims into the "hundreds of thousands," including adults and minors.
"Trafficking is probably worse today than at any time in our history," CNN reported Trump said during the ceremony. "You are not alone."
CNN cited the signing of the measure as a "rare bipartisan victory" in Washington. Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, and Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Connecticut, spearheaded the bill's efforts in the U.S. Senate. Rep. Ann Wagner, R-Missouri, sponsored the bill in the House of Representatives.
Before the signing, the legislation has already seen some impact. Some sites facilitating sex trafficking, including Backpage.com, have shut down. Craigslist has splintered its personal ads section.
"We've already interrupted 87 percent of the global ad volume," Wagner told CNN in an exclusive interview. "Thirty-plus websites and online platforms have either shut down or had major policy changes.
For more than 15 years, Backpage.com has been one of the biggest culprits of online sex trafficking, and the new legislation will help law-enforcement officials drastically reduce the effectiveness of online sex traffickers.
"This legislation is going to give prosecutors the tools they need to make sure that no online website, platform or business can ever reach the size and scope of Backpage.com," Wagner told CNN.
Wagner pointed to other sites such as "Escorts in College, Massage Troll, Erotic Review, Night Shift and City Vibe" as those who have been targeted.
Wagner spent years as a U.S. ambassador in Luxembourg when she first became involved in efforts to combat sex trafficking. Upon her return, she became aware of the widespread and growing problem in the U.S., noting that there has been an 846 percent increase in child sex-trafficking reports in the past five years.
"This wasn't just happening in other countries; it's hiding in plain sight in our country," Wagner said. "People can order up little girls to a hotel room as easy as they could takeout."
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