In the simplest terms, prostitution involves consent and sex trafficking does not. The primary target are websites, apps, messageboards, and other digital publishers, which have deeper pockets. I remember pouring over the ads with friends, amazed at the sheer variety of sexual and romantic asks and desires out there, the strange and tantalizing mix of anonymity and eros and possibility. For one thing, it incentivizes law enforcement to go after third parties rather than stop traffickers or rescue victims. And under FOSTA, our law effectively says that both sex trafficking and paid sex between two consenting adults are more grave offenses that rape, child molestation, mass murder, or anything else. Reddit said the purge was enforcing its new content policy, which bans "transactions for certain goods and services," including "paid services involving physical sexual contact. This failure to distinguish between ads for prostitution and any discussion of prostitution is part of what has sex workers and free-speech advocates so worried. No less than the U. But FOSTA will change that, opening up Craigslist and every other digital platform to serious legal and financial jeopardy should it accidently "promote" or "facilitate" prostitution.
And it goes beyond speech related to sex. It's been largely portrayed by the media and those in Congress as an "anti-sex trafficking" measure. Wyden—who co-authored Section —was the only Democrat to vote against the bill, and Kentucky Sen. I know others who met long-term partners and even spouses that way. The bottom line is that FOSTA "is not going to prevent sex trafficking [and] it's not going to stop young people from becoming victims," Wyden said. What's more, the digital trail of ads, emails, and texts can provide evidence that makes catching and prosecuting the perpetrators easier. FOSTA will "subject websites to criminal and civil liability when third parties users misuse online personals unlawfully," Craigslist explains in the brief notice that now appears in place of potential partners if you try to go to a personals listing. What kind of logic is that? That's why sites are scrambling right now to prohibit any content that could get them held liable. To the millions of spouses, partners, and couples who met through craigslist, we wish you every happiness! And once we start treating technology as the guilty party in any badness it brokers, we will wind up with tech overlords terrified to let us speak about anything controversial at all. Prostitution, mind you, is not sex trafficking, which has a distinct meaning both colloquially and under the law. FOSTA "shall apply regardless of whether the conduct alleged occurred… before, on, or after such date of enactment. Ron Wyden Wednesday from the Senate floor. It also takes away an important tool for finding trafficking victims—the open internet. It protects web platforms from being sued in civil court or criminally charged by state prosecutors for third-party i. How can we say that social media is criminally liable if a "john" meets a year-old girl there, but not if two terrorists hook up and hatch out plans through their DMs? For promoting the prostitution of five or more people, the penalty is 25 years, and the same if promoting someone's prostitution "contributed to sex trafficking. Plus, even those being forced or coerced into prostitution benefit from things like screening out violent clients and not having to walk the streets. No less than the U. Department of Justice has urged against passing FOSTA, calling it unconstitutional and saying that it would make prosecuting sex traffickers harder. Or what about the next time hackers post illegally obtained state secrets or nudes on some remote corner of some social forum? Wyden stressed that FOSTA is not a matter of substituting some free-speech rights for a better ability to stop sex trafficking. But as of Friday, the Craigslist personals section is no more. This is because the core of FOSTA makes it a federal crime to "promote or facilitate the prostitution of another person," punishable by up to 10 years in prison, plus fines. For instance, Reddit's sex-work subreddit bans were accompanied by bans of forums for gun talk and trading gaming logins, among others. And under FOSTA, our law effectively says that both sex trafficking and paid sex between two consenting adults are more grave offenses that rape, child molestation, mass murder, or anything else.
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