For Some It’s Trial-Bar First, Victims of Sex Trafficking Second

What if there was a bill that would make it easier for federal, state, and local law enforcement to prosecute sex-traffickers?

What if the bill applied to sex-traffickers in back-alley streets or back-alley websites?

What if the bill provided victims with automatic compensation, saving victims the pain and cost of a civil trial?

What if the bill had the support of law enforcement groups like: the FBI Agents Association, Fraternal Order of Police, Major Cities Chiefs Association, and National Association of Assistant United States Attorneys? Read more

Stopping Sex Traffickers Online and on our Streets

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:

Because FOSTA takes sex traffickers down and raises financial recovery for victims, FOSTA enjoys the support of victims groups like the:

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.

Innovation for America — But not for Illinois

Individual privacy is important, and Illinois should continue to enact legislation that protects our state’s consumers. However, when class-action attorneys abuse Illinois’ privacy laws to create new laws that will only enrich themselves, Illinois residents will be the ones left out as the rest of country’s technology advances.

For example, Illinois residents cannot use several home-security cameras with facial recognition to know when their children arrive home safely from school. They also cannot use facial recognition to tag and find friends and family members in personal photos stored on Amazon Photos.

READ MORE at State-Journal Register

DOJ is not wielding its power to bring down online sex trafficking

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..

READ MORE at The Hill

NetChoice Welcomes the ECPA Modernization Act of 2017

“NetChoice welcomes the ECPA Modernization Act of 2017’s common-sense privacy protections for our electronic communications.  Today, our privacy in electronic communication is protected by a 30-year-old law that is decades out of date.  The Act brings the 30-year-old ECPA law into the 21st Century” said NetChoice Senior Policy Counsel Carl Szabo.

It would be a mistake for Congress to prohibit targeted advertising online

The Internet has democratized access to information and delivered a dazzling array of free online services, like search, news, maps, and social media. But imagine a world where the next time you use a search engine, instead of seeing results, you see a requirement to enter a credit card. Or the next time you visit USA Today there is fewer content and even more ads on the screen.

In this alternate world, you are bombarded with pop-ups and interstitials, all of which are asking for consent in various ways: blanket consent for use of all “sensitive” information, consent for use of some sensitive information, consent for use of sensitive and non-sensitive information, and so on.

It’s hard to argue that this world would be an improvement for user experience, much less user privacy.

Nonetheless, this troubling future could become a reality if Congress passes the “BROWSER Act” – legislation that requires online websites and services to get affirmative consent from users before serving any ads based on their interests. The proposed legislation would create a nightmare “opt-in regime for interest-based ads.”

READ MORE at The Hill

Illinois Legislation Hammers Small Businesses

While attending the University of Chicago, my dad, like many college students, often stopped by his favorite pizza parlor for some choice deep dish pan pizza. Since then, many of the mom and pop pizza parlors he frequented have migrated online to serve a larger customer base and cut down on brick and mortar expenses. But with the impending passage of SB 1502, these Illinois mainstays of the community might be facing burdensome costs that provide no real benefit to them or their customers.

SB 1502 would require the operator of a commercial website or online service to notify customers anytime information about them is collected or disclosed. This information can be for germane purposes and operational maintenance to reasons related to the nature of the website. Read more

Repealing Colorado’s Tattletale Law: An Opportunity to Restore Coloradans’ Privacy

“Union and Constitution.” These words appear on the Great Seal of Colorado and celebrate the ideals enshrined in the Federal Constitution, including the rights of freedom of expression and privacy.

Sadly, in 2010, the Colorado legislature enacted a tax reporting law that assaults those rights. The aptly nicknamed Colorado “tattletale” law requires online and catalog businesses to report to the state Department of Revenue (DOR) Colorado shoppers’ purchases, including the name of the catalog or online store where the shopper made purchases; the shopper’s name and address; and the amount the shopper spent on products or services.

Thankfully the legislature soon will have the opportunity to restore Colorado residents’ privacy rights later this Spring with SB 17-238, which if passed would repeal the tattletale reporting provision. Read more

Tattletale Tax Reporting Law Violates Consumer Privacy, Coloradans Say

Overwhelming Majority Say State Should Not Be Collecting Personal Information on Shopping Habits, NetChoice Survey Finds

An overwhelming majority of Coloradans believe a state law forcing online and catalog businesses to report personal purchase information to state tax authorities is an invasion of privacy, per a new NetChoice survey of Colorado residents.* Residents also view the law’s misguided aim to collect sales and use taxes as a statewide tax increase.

Fully 78 percent of Coloradans said the state should not be allowed to force businesses to turn over information on their internet purchases, including the retailer’s name, the customer’s name, the billing address, the shipping address, and the amount of purchases. Read more

Ohlhausen should direct FTC to focus on real harms to privacy

When was the last time you read a privacy policy? I mean actually read it, not just clicked “I agree”?

The FTC has said time and time again that “consumers don’t read privacy policies.”  They’ve been doing this for nearly a decade. In 2007, then-Federal Trade Commissioner Jon Leibowitz declared that “in many cases, consumers don’t notice, read, or understand the privacy policies.” Likewise, study after study has substantiated this fact.

Of course, it doesn’t take an FTC chairman, or a researcher to tell us this, we all know that we rarely, if ever, read the privacy policies we’re presented.

READ MORE at The Hill