“This ruling by the federal court in Boston in the Jane Doe v. Backpage case is a great win for victims of sex trafficking and those working to stop bad actors like Backpage. It is a very positive sign that the victims will get their day in court, and that Backpage won’t be able to hide behind Section 230.
“This decision is especially welcome because it comes within the First Circuit. It will likely soon result in a favorable precedent at the appellate level as well.
“When the First Circuit previously considered this case, they made it clear they were not ruling on allegations that Backpage participated in web content creation. The plaintiffs wisely amended their complaint to allege this. As a result, they gained access to discovery that will allow even more specific allegations in this case.
“All sex trafficking victims should be encouraged by this decision. Meanwhile, as this case moves forward to limited discovery without restraint from Section 230, Congress should advance HR 1865, Allow States and Victims to Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act of 2017 that creates new criminal liability and civil authorities to benefit victims and provide restitution.”
The replacement was apparently predicated on a submission to the House Judiciary Committee presented by Chris Cox, a former congressman and outside counsel for NetChoice, a bill supported by the Internet Association, SIIA, CCIA (all of whom count Google among their funders), and other powerful tech lobbying organizations. Cox had, only weeks earlier, testified against FOSTA before the House Judiciary Committee.
Former representative Chris Cox, now a lawyer for NetChoice, which represents many Internet companies, had suggested in his testimony to the committee that the legislation merely restate the intent of the CDA rather than rewrite it and create unforeseen problems. Cox was an original author of the CDA.
Although the new letter does not mention the tech industry’s role, some advocates point out that the language in the amendment closely mirrors a suggestion made by Chris Cox, a former congressman and lobbyist who serves as outside counsel for NetChoice, an advocacy group funded in part by Google. NetChoice declined to say whether Google was one of its larger donors, but noted that it has two dozen members. “We don’t speak for any one member, not do we represent any members,” spokesperson Carl Szabo, the group’s vice president, told WIRED.
“If this comes out of House Judiciary and it passes, this is likely the end of this whole exercise,” Mazzio said in an interview, saying the survivor community feels “betrayed.” She said the amendment seems to be largely pulled from language suggested by NetChoice, a trade association whose members include Google and Facebook. “How did that left turn happen? Why was it done in secret?”
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.
NetChoice, another Internet trade group that has brought lawsuits against state laws imposing sales tax mandates and privacy restrictions, used former congressman Chris Cox, who co-wrote the Communications Decency Act, to testify in the House last month that there were better ways to address the problem.
Steve DelBianco, president of NetChoice, said Monday that it was “good to see the progress made from collaborative efforts on all sides,” but that the group still favored using existing laws to go after online traffickers, as Cox advocated. “Federal prosecutors are apparently having trouble bringing sex traffickers to justice — even though they’re explicitly unhindered by Section 230″ of the Communications Decency Act, DelBianco said. “We need stronger legal remedies than just amending” the anti-sex-trafficking statute, he added.
But the narrowing has drawn opposition from NetChoice, an alliance that includes Facebook and eBay. The bill would would raise questions about why sex trafficking was given special treatment and other online crimes like terrorism were not, said former Rep. Christopher Cox, one of the authors of the 1996 law and now outside counsel for NetChoice.
“There would now be a different rule for one crime,” Cox said.
“By eliminating the disruptions and redundancies that were part of this bill, we will allow one of the state’s fastest growing industries to succeed,” said Carl Szabo, Vice President and General Counsel for NetChoice.