Governor Signs State FOSTA Language into Law
On July 27, I was honored to participate in a legislative panel in St. Louis for the World Day Against Trafficking in Persons, an event organized by a coalition of groups dedicated to fighting human trafficking and assisting its victims. It was inspiring to see this diverse group with a common goal of addressing the problem of human trafficking, including sex trafficking of minors.
I was happy to be able to inform the group that on July 11, the governor signed House Bill 397. During the legislative process, I was able to add my Senate Bill 37 to HB 397. This bill is the state counterpart to the federal Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act (FOSTA) passed by Congress in 2018. Both the federal and state FOSTA laws make it a crime to own, manage or operate a website that intentionally facilitates the prostitution of another. The offense of promoting prostitution in the first degree is a class A felony if the conduct contributes to the offense of trafficking for the purpose of sexual exploitation.
In our increasingly digital age, the crime of human sex trafficking has moved online. For far too long, websites like Backpage have hidden behind a loophole in Section 230 of the 1996 Communications Decency Act and have facilitated the exploitation of children and others. FOSTA closes this loophole.
At the crossroads of America, our state is a prime location for human trafficking. This means we must be vigilant against this silent epidemic plaguing our state and our communities. FOSTA gives law enforcement in our state one more tool to go after those who facilitate modern-day slavery and bring them to justice.
I want to thank the governor for signing this important piece of legislation into law.
As always, thank you for your interest in our work at the State Capitol. I look forward to discussing some of the important issues affecting our state and our community in my next report. It is an honor and a privilege to serve you in the Missouri Senate!
Robert F. (Bob) Onder, Jr.