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Online Sexual Exploitation and Abuse in the United States

The United States (US) is a key player in the fight against online sexual exploitation and abuse (OSEA). The role of the US in this fight is especially important because the US is a global hub of technological innovation. Many digital service providers and platforms are domiciled in the US. Over 90% of Americans have access to the internet, and that number is likely to increase to 94% by 2025.1 Traffickers are online too. In the US, three-quarters of sex trafficking victims say they were advertised on websites such as Backpage and Craigslist.

The US has not always ratified international conventions designed to combat OSEA but has been proactive in domestic efforts to curb these harms. The US approach is complicated by the prevalence of state law, which means the US response varies across the states for some violations.

The information in this factsheet is largely derived from our 2021 report, Ending Online Sexual Exploitation and Abuse of Women and Girls: A Call for International Standards.