WASHINGTON, Sept. 19, 2017 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Altering free-speech provisions to address sex-trafficking on digital platforms such as Backpage may be well-intentioned, but will undermine the future of the Internet, policy advocacy group NetChoice told Congress today. Instead, Congress should focus its efforts on prompting the U.S. Department of Justice (DoJ) to use existing laws to combat sex-trafficking.
"Because DoJ hasn't shown they are going after Backpage, Congress feels pressure to step in to address this heinous issue," said Carl Szabo, Sr. Policy Counsel of NetChoice. "Sec. 230 does not shield Backpage from federal or state prosecution. Congress should be holding hearings asking the Attorney General the hard questions about why DoJ is not being more aggressive against platforms such as Backpage," said Szabo.
In testimony submitted to the Senate Commerce Committee, NetChoice said the Stop Enabling Sex Traffickers Act (SESTA) could have far-reaching effects on the future of the Internet: "Section 230 is the foundation for online user expression, so we need robust discussions before moving new legislation."
"Sex-trafficking is a serious problem, and we support aggressive prosecution of any facilitation of this activity via the Internet. Section 230 does not shield knowingly complicit illegal activity such as sex-trafficking," added former Rep. Chris Cox, one of the authors of Section 230 and NetChoice Outside Counsel. "Section 230 was created to enable user-generated content platforms that have enhanced freedom of expression around the world. We have to be careful not to break Section 230 for legitimate users."
For the NetChoice testimony, please see http://NetChoice.org/BurnBackpage
NetChoice testimony represents its own views and not necessarily the views of its members.
NetChoice is a trade association of eCommerce businesses who share the goal of promoting convenience, choice, and commerce on the net.