Today U.S. Senator Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) introduced the Survivors of Human Trafficking Fight Back Act to create a private cause of action allowing victims of rape and sex trafficking, as well as individuals whose intimate images are distributed without their consent, to sue pornographic websites that profit off their exploitation. Senator Hawley’s bill is cosponsored by Senators Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.), and Thom Tillis (R-N.C.).

"Sites like Pornhub routinely escape responsibility for facilitating abuse, trafficking, and exploitation, making millions for themselves in the process. Meanwhile, the victims of this abuse have little recourse against these powerful companies, who thrive on spreading depraved content. Serious criminal penalties are needed to crack down on these tech executives who think they are above the law."

Senator Josh Hawley

Senator Hassan said, "We shouldn’t have to pass a law to keep companies from profiting by sharing, without consent, intimate images. But we do. The harm that these companies cause is extraordinary, lasts a lifetime, and should be unthinkable. This bipartisan bill helps give more power to those whose privacy and dignity have been violated by making it easier to take down images that have been non-consensually shared, and providing recourse for individuals to hold companies accountable for their wrongdoing."

Senator Ernst said, "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. This bill will help empower victims of human trafficking to seek justice and put an end to the complex and heartbreaking cycle of exploitation."

Senator Tillis said, "Pornographic websites routinely post videos of woman who are the victims of abuse or exploitation, and it is past time these companies are held accountable for posting this disgusting content. I am proud to co-introduce this legislation with Senator Hawley that would allow the victims of these videos to sue pornographic websites for distributing and profiting from videos that are posted without consent."

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.