The U.S. government may investigate how cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin are being used in sex trafficking under a bill proposed by the House Financial Services Committee on June 12.
According to a June 11 memorandum, the “Fight Illicit Networks and Detect (FIND) Trafficking Act” would require the U.S. Comptroller General “to carry out a study on how virtual currencies and online marketplaces are used to buy, sell, or facilitate the financing of goods or services associated with sex trafficking or drug trafficking, and for other purposes.”
If passed, the report would be submitted up to a year later to the Senate Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs Committee and the House Financial Services Committee that summarizes results and contains recommendations for legislation or regulations “that would improve the efforts of federal agencies to impede the use of virtual currencies and online marketplaces in facilitating sex and drug trafficking.”
Cryptocurrencies are often the methods of payment used in illicit marketplaces online, particularly on the darknet.
The bill comes amid several U.S. initiatives meant to stop sex trafficking of women and children, and to prosecute those involved in such crimes. President Donald Trump signed the Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act (FOSTA) on April 11, which helped take down the infamous sex trafficking website Backpage.com.
Such websites were previously protected by a clause of the Communications Decency Act that was signed into law in 1996 by then-President Bill Clinton, which guarded website operators against legal action for content posted by users. FOSTA limits these protections, and holds website owners liable for user posts that facilitate human trafficking.
Trump said during the signing of FOSTA that human trafficking “is worse today than at any other time in history.” According to The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, reports of child sex trafficking increased 846 percent between 2010 and 2015.
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