President Donald Trump signed a bill Wednesday to give prosecutors more power to target sex trafficking advertisements online.
Trump signed the Allow States and Victims to Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act, or FOSTA, in a White House ceremony Wednesday afternoon.
The act amends the Communications Act of 1934 to allow an exception for sex trafficking, and makes it easier for federal and state prosecutors to target certain websites for enabling prostitution and other sex-related crimes.
The White House said the old law’s communications decency provisions can no longer be interpreted to ignore sex trafficking.
FOSTA also authorizes increased penalties — including fines and jail of up to 25 years — for people who “promote or facilitate the prostitution of five or more people or who contribute to sex trafficking through reckless disregard.”
The new law also permits victims to seek justice against trafficking sites.
The White House said the underground sex economy is a multi-million dollar industry, and cited a 2014 Urban Institute report that said underground sex trade in eight cities — Atlanta, Dallas, Denver, Kansas City, Miami, Seattle, San Diego, and Washington, D.C. — are worth a combined $40 million to $290 million to their local economies.