Now is the Time to Pass the Congressional House Bill, Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act of 2017 (FOSTA)
Thursday is National Human Trafficking Awareness day, to raise concern about one of the most heinous crimes occurring here and abroad. This modern-day sex slavery must be stopped.
This means that we must arm law enforcement and prosecutors with the legal tools to take actions against sex trafficking criminals.
To that end, Congressman Ann Wagner and Chairman Bob Goodlatte sponsored the Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act of 2017 (FOSTA) — legislation designed to give state, local, and federal prosecutors new ways to take down and imprison sex traffickers — whether they are selling on our streets or over the internet.
Existing laws have a complex and confusing path to prove that sex traffickers have criminal intent. FOSTA dramatically changes this dynamic.
FOSTA makes it easier for state, local, and federal law enforcement and criminal prosecutors to convict sex-traffickers by lowering the burdens of proof. FOSTA then goes further to allow sentencing of up to 25 years.
Recognizing the importance of enlisting additional enforcement resources, FOSTA allows all levels of law enforcement to prosecute criminal actors — both online and offline.
Along with putting sex traffickers behind bars, FOSTA helps victims by mandating that judges order financial recovery for victims once a criminal is convicted. This feature of FOSTA removes the need for each victim to endure the pain of protracted court battles, only to see trial lawyers walk off with a third of the lawsuit proceeds.
Instead, FOSTA mandates that all victims are paid and enables all recovery funds to go to victims, not the lawyers.
Because FOSTA is a such a powerful tool for criminal prosecution, it enjoys the supports of law enforcement across the country — including the:
- FBI Agents Association,
- Fraternal Order of Police,
- Major Cities Chiefs Association, and
- National Association of Assistant United States Attorneys.
Because FOSTA takes sex traffickers down and raises financial recovery for victims, FOSTA enjoys the support of victims groups like the:
- U.S. Institute Against Human Trafficking,
- Concerned Women for America,
- Faith & Freedom Coalition, and
- The Covering House.
You would hope that a bill like FOSTA would attract unanimous consent in Congress. Unfortunately, opposition to FOSTA is being drummed-up by trial bar lawyers who want the big payoffs that come from settling private lawsuits.
Regardless of the opposition of some self-serving trial attorneys, now is the time to pass FOSTA.
FOSTA was unanimously approved in Committee in December, so the sooner we move this bill to the House floor and through Congress, the sooner we can start sending criminals to prison and compensating victims for the horrors of sex trafficking.
There has been much speculation about the online advertisements placed by Russian agents in last year’s presidential election. Was this a plot to swing the outcome? Or was it an effort to create chaos and divide our country?
Whatever the reason, there is one thing we can all agree on: foreign meddling in the domestic affairs of the United States cannot be tolerated and must be stopped.
If there is one thing we can all agree on, it’s that sex trafficking is a horrendous crime, really the worst of the worst. Those who knowingly facilitate sex trafficking — whether it be online or offline — should be prosecuted and put in jail. Robbing the promise and potential of a human life is an egregious offense. One prime example is the notorious Backpage.com website, the leading U.S. website for prostitution advertising.
In August, Sens. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) and Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) set out to thwart sex trafficking on the internet with the introduction of the Stop Enabling Sex Traffickers Act (SESTA). The bill would modify Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act to make it easier to prosecute websites that contribute to sex trafficking.
On first blush this may seem like a good idea, but two issues should make us reconsider this approach..
Part 1: We’re losing the battle for online taxes and consumer privacy
Part 2: The ongoing war for privacy and security in the cloud
Part 3: How much online freedom did you lose in 2016?
The European Court of Justice’s “Right to be Forgotten” ruling upsets a foundational principle regarding openness of the Internet – it has always been viewed as a platform to express one’s opinion and access information. This ruling converts websites from intermediaries into censors, forcing them to balance Europeans’ right to information against individuals’ demands to suppress lawfully published information about them.
The European court gave little practical guidance on how search services should strike this balance. So Google, the first Internet business to be targeted by the ruling, created a panel of legal, policy, and technological experts to address the challenge.
The day Google opened its online submission process to comply with the European “right to be forgotten” ruling, the company received 12,000 requests – one every seven seconds – from users demanding that information be pulled from search results.
The cost of ignoring those requests, or getting them “wrong” in the eyes of the EU courts? Google could face fines of a billion dollars per incident. In the European Union, the process of whitewashing history is underway.
With the ruling, the court is forcing Google to perform the impossible balancing act between the newly invented “right” be forgotten and the Internet’s unique power to preserve, contextualize, and disseminate information.
This week, some businesses filed a constitutional challenge against Utah’s new law restricting license plate recognition technologies. The lawsuit, filed by NetChoice members DRN and Vigilant, seeks a critical precedent that would remind state legislatures that the Constitution protects innovators– just as it protects other citizens.
The businesses filing this suit offer license plate recognition (LPR) technology and services. We first wrote about this last July, describing the LPR witch-hunt being run by privacy advocates. Read more
An effort by state attorneys general to carve a major exemption out of a critical online free speech statute poses as serious a threat to Internet commerce as it does to free expression, NetChoice Executive Director Steve DelBianco said today.
NetChoice today joined a group of leading civil liberties and technology industry associations in opposing a push by state AGs for a broad new exemption to Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act. Section 230 is a cornerstone of American Internet policy that protects companies from liability when users post illegal content on their sites. It is widely credited with supporting the emergence of the Web 2.0 revolution of user-generated content.
“If you want to know why the Internet and e-commerce industries thrived here and stagnated in Europe, you don’t have to look much further than Section 230,” DelBianco said. Read more
Steve spoke on the TechFreedom Event, COPPA: Past, Present & Future of Children’s Privacy & Media
He discussed the costs of the new COPPA regulations and the harm to children’s content.