“We need to have a solution to this problem that is consistent across more than 4,000 federal crimes and thousands more state crimes,” former Republican California congressman Christopher Cox said Tuesday at a House Judiciary Committee hearing on the Allow States and Victims to Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act. “We don’t have enough time in our lives to fix these crimes one at a time.”
Instead, Cox said the government should do more under existing laws to bring traffickers to justice.
“Section 230 was never intended to provide legal protection to websites that commit any crime,” said Cox, who helped pen the legislation along with then-congressman Ron Wyden in 1996. “If we enforced the statute the way it’s written, we wouldn’t be having this discussion.”
“Courts would have to give meaning to the fact that Congress singled out sex trafficking and no other offenses,” Cox said. “This would make it harder for them to reach the result we would all presumably want in, say, an internet terrorism case: that is, we would not want Section 230 to be a barrier to prosecution of a website that was complicit in creating web content in violation of laws against terrorism. Singling out one crime in a revised Section 230 could easily distort the results in other criminal cases.”