Florida works to end online prostitution

State works to get federal government to amend law giving states more authority


TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Sex sells -– now the state of Florida is working to stop it, at least for online prostitution. The state is working to get the federal government to amend a law giving states more authority in preventing the online act.

Some signs created are an open invitation for young women to become prostitutes. But because the Internet is involved there's little the state can do to stop it.

Attorney General Pam Bondi and other attorney generals want a federal law changed to give them more authority to step in.

"They could stop human sex-trafficking with those people who are on the internet," said Jenn Meale, of the Attorney General's Office.

The group is calling on Congress to add the phrase "or state" to the Communications Decency Act of 1996. It would give states jurisdiction for ending online prostitution.

"Currently under the Communications Decency Act, state and local law prosecutors don't have authority, don't have jurisdiction to act," said Meale.

The state's biggest online complaints have been Backpage and Craigslist. A sign near Florida State University is raising concerns, too.

People who have seen the sign, which promotes students to get sugar daddies, say it's just another form of online prostitution.

"It's one of the first things we saw when we turned off campus the other day; it doesn't convey a good image," said John Schwenkler, a concerned citizen.

The attorney general's office didn't have a comment on the billboard; the company said it isn't promoting online prostitution.

In an email response, a representative said the sign is a platform allowing men and women to engage in mutually beneficial arrangements.

People at FSU said it wrongfully exploits college students.

"It's preying into worries and fears they have about money and yeah, it's predatory," said Angela Schwenkler.

It's estimated Backpage makes $5 million a month from sex ads.

The billboard has been up near FSU since mid-July.