This Note argues that the SAVE Act will not achieve Congress’ goal of prosecuting website operators and stopping the influx of online child sex trafficking advertisements. However, the potential pitfalls of this legislation does not mean the Act should be thrown out in its entirety. Instead, the Act should be rewritten to include well-crafted, yet informative definitions of online child sex trafficking, while also lowering the mens rea requirement and requiring website operators to engage in more due diligence.
Part I outlines the background of Internet sex trafficking in general. Section A discusses the parties involved in online child sex trafficking advertisements, the transition of the crime from the street and onto the Internet, and the benefits the Internet has provided this criminal industry. Section B details how law enforcement and anti-human trafficking interest groups pressure online classified websites to stop these illegal advertisements from being posted.
Next, Part II provides an overview of statutes enacted before the SAVE Act that relate to the Internet and online child sex trafficking advertisements. Section A summarizes the CDA and the First Amendment. Section B discusses the unconstitutionality of the state statutes enacted in New Jersey, Tennessee, and Washington to combat online child sex trafficking advertisements. Section C outlines the current debate on abolishing child sex trafficking from the Internet.
Furthermore, Part III discusses the SAVE Act’s history and language as well as its advantages and disadvantages. This part argues that the SAVE Act will be ineffective because of (1) judicial hesitation, (2) inadequate wording, and (3) irresponsible deference.
Finally, Part IV provides solutions to the SAVE Act’s deficiencies. Section A proposes new definitions of the terms used in the statute to avoid vagueness and overbreadth and suggests lowering the mens rea standard for website operators. Section B proposes the use of facial recognition programs to find unlawful posts.