A Letter to Congress: The Communications Decency Act Promotes
By Abigail Kuzma*
Daily news reports outline incidents of the Internet being used to facilitate sex trafficking.
Moreover, the U.S. Department of Justice and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (“FBI”) report
that sex trafficking victims are often both underage and U.S. citizens. The average age children
are first used in commercial sex is between twelve and fourteen, 1 and eighty-three percent of all
sex trafficking victims found in the United States are U.S. citizens. 2 Federal courts have
recognized that "[t]he Internet has become a favored means of advertising the availability of
children for sex." 3 Internet ads can be purchased in multiple locations with the click of a button.
This allows pimps to maximize their profit and evade detection by moving victims quickly to
lucrative venues, for example sporting events, where there is significant demand for commercial
Nevertheless, sex trafficking cases are not limited to large urban areas or particular
regions of the country. In Minnesota, for example, law enforcement and hotel and motel owners
joined forces in response to the number of sex trafficking cases originating with the website
Backpage.com. 5 Just last year, a Georgia man fraudulently enticed young males to come to his
suburban home and then sold them for sex on Craigslist. 6 In recent years, sex trafficking cases
have increased 545% in San Diego, California. 7 Racketeering and organized crime groups as
well as street gangs are involved, and many of these perpetrators are using the Internet to sell
their victims. 8
* Copyright 2013 by Abigail Lawlis Kuzma, Director & Chief Counsel of Consumer Protection, Office and Senior Policy Advisor for
the Indiana Attorney General. The author thanks Tamara Weaver, Nicole Baldonado, and Natalie Carpenter for their assistance in
writing this article.
1 Some research indicates that the average age of entry for U.S. girls is twelve to fourteen, while the average age for U.S. boys and
transgender youth is eleven to thirteen. Amanda Walker-Rodriguez & Rodney Hill, Human Sex Trafficking, FED. BUREAU
INVESTIGATION (Mar. 2011), http://www.fbi.gov/stats-services/publications/law-enforcement-
bulletin/march_2011/human_sex_trafficking; POLARIS PROJECT, CHILD SEX TRAFFICKING AT-A-GLANCE (2011),
2 DUREN BANKS & TRACEY KYCKELHAHN, U.S. DEP’T OF JUSTICE, CHARACTERISTICS OF SUSPECTED HUMAN TRAFFICKING
INCIDENTS, 2008-2010 1 (Apr. 2011), http://bjs.gov/content/pub/pdf/cshti0810.pdf.
3 Backpage.com v. Cooper, 3:12-CV-00654, 2013 WL 1558785, at 3 (M.D. Tenn. Jan. 3, 2013).
4 Id.; Lisa Trigg, The Seedy Side of the Super Bowl: Behind Glitz and Glamour Is the Dark Realm of Human Trafficking,
TRIBSTAR.COM (Jan. 8, 2012), http://tribstar.com/local/x608924131/The-Seedy-Side-of-the-Super-Bowl.
5 Jennie Olson, Ramsey County Leaders Take Stand Against Child Trafficking, KSTP.COM (Aug. 23, 2012),
http://ramsey.kstp.com/news/news/160115-ramsey-county-leaders-take-stand-against-child-trafficking. Backpage.com is just one of
many Internet Service Providers that provide a forum for advertising “adult services” such as escorts or strippers. See Tracy Clark-Flory, Sex Ads: It Isn’t Just Backpage.com, SALON (May 24, 2012),
http://www.salon.com/2012/05/24/sex_ads_it_isnt_just_backpage_com/. Other “legitimate” sites include: about.com, yp.com,
facebook.com, tumblr.com, and twitter.com. Id. Backpage.com is the most popular escort site. #AC360 – Should Backpage Close
Their Adult Services Section?, CNN PRESS ROOM (May 16, 2012), http://cnnpressroom.blogs.cnn.com/2012/05/16/ac360-should-
backpage-close-their-adult-services-section/. Backpage.com appears to be the biggest forum for sex trafficking of minor girls in the
United States. Nicholas D. Kristof, Financers and Sex Trafficking, N.Y. TIMES (March, 31 2012),
6 Kimathi Lewis, Former Go-Go Dancer Guilty of Molesting, Pimping Teen Boys, EXAMINER.COM, (Aug. 28, 2012),
7 Greg Moran, Child Sex Trafficking, Pornography Cases up 545%, U-T SAN DIEGO (Aug. 23, 2012),