#189: Fighting Online Sex Trafficking

August 11, 2017

Recently, Senators Rob Portman (R-OH) and Claire McCaskill (D-MO) introduced the Stop Enabling Sex Traffickers Act (SESTA). The bill is gaining co-sponsors and support on both sides of the aisle, and virtually everyone agrees that sex trafficking is a very real problem that Congress needs to address. But the bill is also getting pushback from voices across the spectrum, including right- and left-leaning civil society groups and tech companies big and small.

Supporters of SESTA argue that long-standing intermediary liability protections for web platforms are enabling sex trafficking, citing the website Backpage.com, whose founders knowingly profited from and facilitated sex crimes. Critics of SESTA caution that the safe harbor in Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act is a bedrock of Internet freedom, and warn that the bill would actually undermine cooperation between law enforcement and tech companies. Evan discusses with TechFreedom’s Berin Szoka and Ashkhen Kazaryan. For more, see our coalition letter.

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