Much of our world is exposed to endless amounts of information online… the good, the bad, and the ugly.
Nearly 70% of human trafficking survivors say that they were advertised online at some point while being trafficked. Many of these websites post online advertisements of minors being exploited.
President Trump signed a law in 2018 called FOSTA, Fight Online Sex Trafficking. This act was aimed at trying to stop the enabling of sex trafficking and put an end to online trafficking.
Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act of 2017 (FOSTA) targets online sex trafficking and subjects’ websites to federal criminal and civil liability when users facilitate prostitution.
FOSTA creates an exception to Section 230 that means website publishers would be responsible if third parties are found to be posting ads for prostitution (one of the veils of sex trafficking) on their platforms. The goal of this is to make it easier to police such websites which exploit countless young lives.
CityXGuide.com was launched in 2018 right after the shutdown of Backpage.com, the top online human trafficking site. It operated much like the Cragslist of exploitation.
CityXGuide.com became a leading source of online advertisements for prostitution and sex trafficking which served clients across the nation, including a list of 14 “Favorite Cities” such as Dallas, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Las Vegas, Chicago, Atlanta, Miami, and Boston.
Law enforcement has been able to identify numerous underage victims in CityXGuide advertisements, including a 13-year-old female who was recovered in November 2019.
The Justice Department announced a 28-charge indictment against Wilhan Martono, 46, the website’s owner, made possible thanks to legislation like FOSTA.
Martono allegedly made $21 million off the website and tried concealing the online activity by routing traffic through a European IP address. If convicted, he faces up to 25 years in federal prison. Blatant use of virtual platforms for the abuse and exploitation of innocent young lives must be stopped. Pornography sites are also known as hotbeds for sex trafficking, as well as chat rooms and many apps.
For more information regarding FOSTA and online sex trafficking visit, ICE Newsroom.