State bill looks to crack down on human trafficking

State bill looks to crack down on human trafficking

Human trafficking and internet crimes against children are growing problems across the country and in Wisconsin. The FBI made 82 arrests in Wisconsin during a nationwide sting last month and rescued two children.

State lawmakers are now hoping to help investigators crack down on those crimes with a bipartisan bill that expands on existing laws. Current legislation was designed to mainly help investigate child pornography cases, but AB 634 would help investigators better fight human trafficking as well.

Matt Joy, Dir. of the Human Trafficking Bureau and Internet Crimes against Children Task Force with the Wisconsin Department of Justice, said investigators are currently allowed to subpoena internet providers for records, allowing them to track IP addresses.

Under the proposed bill, the Attorney General would also be able to subpoena hotels for their internet records. The hotel would have to provide the customer’s name, address, phone number and the duration of that person’s stay.

Joy said internet crimes are hard to track because technology is ever-changing. Criminals are using apps and encryption to hide their identities and locations, so the DOJ needs more tools to fight them.

“We started recognizing, as we built our human trafficking capacities over the last year, that this tool could be a great benefit to those who are engaged in human trafficking investigations as well,” Joy said.

He said if this bill passes, the DOJ would be able to more quickly and effectively help people and make arrests.

“As we’ve been working our investigations and we’re recognizing, unfortunately, the prevalence of human trafficking and the use of hotels, motels, lodges, lodging establishments to further that crime, we recognize this investigative tool will help us,” Joy said.

The Assembly Committee on Criminal Justice and Public Safety is holding a public hearing on this bill at the capitol at 10:30 a.m.