July 21, 2017 Comments Off on Allow States and Victims to Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act of 2017
Consumer Watchdog Calls for Immediate Congressional Hearings on Bipartisan Bill to Change Internet Law So Child Sex Trafficking Websites like Backpage.com Can Be Held Accountable
SANTA MONICA, Calif., July 20, 2017 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — Consumer Watchdog today called on the House Commerce Committee and Judiciary Committee to hold immediate hearings on a bill amending a key Internet law so websites like Backpage.com that facilitate child sex trafficking can be held accountable by victims and state attorneys general.
The bipartisan bill, Rep. Ann Wagner’s H.R. 1865, the Allow States and Victims to Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act of 2017, has 34 co-sponsors. It would amend Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act. That section provides that a website can’t be held liable for what’s posted on its site by third parties. Tech companies and other defenders of CDA Section 230 claim it promotes and protects free expression on the Internet.
“Internet freedom must not come at the expense of children who are sex trafficked,” said John M. Simpson, Consumer Watchdog Privacy Project Director. “Just as the First Amendment does not allow you to shout fire in a crowded movie house, or to assist hit men and drug dealers in their criminal activity, CDA Section 230 must not be allowed to protect an exploitative business that is built on child sex trafficking”….
“One of the most notorious websites, Backpage.com, has become a virtual hub for child sex-trafficking. By one count 73% of child trafficking reports in the United States involve this cynical website,” wrote Simpson. “Backpage hides behind the cloak of Sec. 230 while too many in the tech industry blindly and reflexively claim that needed amendments would undermine Internet freedom.”….
Google, CDT, EFF and other tech industry representatives may claim to be protecting free speech and Internet freedom, but their activities have done little more than protect a notorious sex-trafficking hub from being held accountable by its victims, Consumer Watchdog said. Backpage’s abuses and the fight by its victims to hold it accountable are the subject of a new documentary film, I am Jane Doe. (http://www.iamjanedoefilm.com)
Allow States and Victims to Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act of 2017
This bill amends the Communications Act of 1934 to specify that communications decency provisions protecting providers or users of interactive computer services from liability for the private blocking or screening of offensive material shall not be construed to impair the enforcement of, or limit availability of victim restitution or civil remedies under, state or federal criminal or civil laws relating to sexual exploitation of children or sex trafficking.
The bill amends the federal criminal code to specify that the violation for benefiting from “participation in a venture” engaged in sex trafficking of children, or by force, fraud, or coercion, includes knowing or reckless conduct by any person or entity and by any means that furthers or in any way aids or abets the violation.
A provider of an interactive computer service that publishes information provided by an information content provider with reckless disregard that the information is in furtherance of a sex trafficking offense shall be subject to a criminal fine or imprisonment for not more than 20 years.