WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Joni Ernst (R-IA) joined her colleagues in introducing the Survivors of Human Trafficking Fight Back Act, a bipartisan bill that would create a private right of action for victims of human trafficking and coerced pornography, allowing them to bring state claims to federal court. The legislation would also give survivors the power to sue websites that knowingly disseminate pornographic content produced through coercion or sexual assault, and privacy-invading images or videos on their platforms.
 
"In recent years, we’ve seen an uptick in human trafficking through pornography. Host websites that allow perpetrators to disseminate photos and video of sexual assaults or coerced sex acts on their platforms are evading the law while profiting directly from trafficking,” said Senator Ernst. “This bill will help empower victims of human trafficking to seek justice and put an end to the complex and heartbreaking cycle of exploitation."
 
Background
The Survivors of Human Trafficking Fight Back Act would:
  • Criminalize the knowing distribution of visual depictions of forced or coerced sex acts.
  • Criminalize the knowing, nonconsensual distribution of depictions of sex acts (“revenge porn”), as well as privacy-invading “locker-room” images.
  • Require all websites hosting pornography to create notice and takedown procedures ensuring that victims of coerced or privacy-invading videos can promptly have their images removed from the internet.
  • Allow victims to sue websites that knowingly host depictions of forced sex acts or that distribute privacy-invading images and videos.
 
Ernst’s latest efforts build on her work to combat human trafficking, including her support of legislation that would help ensure access to complete and accurate data on the scope of human trafficking in the United States.
 
The senator has also continued to hear from leaders and organizations across Iowa who are working to recognize and prevent human trafficking in communities throughout the state.
 
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