STAFF NEWS & ANALYSIS
How Sex Traffickers Are Fighting for Your Rights
By The Daily Bell Staff - September 15, 2017

If you support free speech, you support sex trafficking. At least that’s what politicians hope the public will think.

Clever politicians seem to be learning. If they want to censor the web and destroy free speech, they need to pick the right targets for their legislation. Of course, in reality, the legislation will end up affecting all of us.

Their efforts really amount to holding websites accountable for what their users post. They are shining a light on Backpage, a website much like Craigslist where users post ads. The website lets users post based on location for things like buying and selling items, job listings, and community events.

The legal issues come from Backpage failing to stop the use of its website for sex trafficking. Ads appear in adult and dating sections which facilitate prostitution.

But why should a website be held accountable for what users post? Is Facebook held accountable for drug deals arranged through its messenger? Should Twitter be held responsible when a riot is organized with the platform?

But politicians aren’t talking about the potential for their legislation to affect sectors other than sex trafficking. They use emotional pleas. And this could mean more Americans are willing to stomach legislation that would seriously threaten any website that allows users to post. Hosts would be liable for user content.

That means anyone who has a website would be at serious risk of legal trouble if any piece of their business lets users post. Websites like Facebook who can hire countless employees to police the content might not care. But what about small websites? What about message boards, and comments sections?

Trade groups representing Google, Facebook and other Internet giants warn of a “devastating impact” on the tech industry if the 1996 Communications Decency Act is tinkered with in the way lawmakers envision to hold Backpage and others liable for criminal material on their pages.

They project “mass removals of legitimate content” by social media and other firms scrambling to shield themselves from a deluge of lawsuits from trial lawyers and prosecutors. The ACLU joined the Electronic Frontier Foundation and other groups in warning lawmakers that if they pass the law, every one of the millions of social media postings placed online daily becomes a potential liability for the company hosting it.

But in true politician fashion, the response highlights only the “good” the legislation will do, ignoring the potential to curb free speech online.

“The Communications Decency Act is a well-intentioned law, but it was never intended to protect sex traffickers,” said Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio)…

California Atty. Gen. Xavier Becerra said the site would have been shut down long ago if not for the immunity. “We would have been able to stop the abuse and in some cases the death of some of these young people who got caught up in these sex trafficking rings,” Becerra said.

Prostitution might be the world’s oldest profession. But politicians think they can finally stamp it out if only they had the power to censor shut down websites!

A quarter of the members of Congress have signed on as co-sponsors of the bill. Maybe they have the best intentions.

Or maybe they simply want more power to censor websites and the free speech of their users.

User created content will suffer if this bill passes. That puts things like communication, organization, and protest at risk.

Free speech is becoming a problem for the government, and they are taking the incremental approach to limiting it. That is why they talk so much about curbing hate speech and fake news. They want Americans to be onboard to limit neo-Nazis and ads for prostitution. But like most laws, it will only limit freedom.

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  • Bruce C.

    Picking on prostitution is a stupid approach to gaining support for censorship. Most people don’t give a damn about prostitution and some actually support it along with other “civil rights” like taking drugs and aborting unwanted fetal developments. It’s part of the “it’s my body, it’s my life, it’s my business” theme.

    A better approach would be to hold webmasters accountable for their users’ expression of religious concepts. Besides sounding stupid and primitive to non-believers, such ideas would be hard to define and discriminate between non-secular nonsense thus increasing the costs of legal defense. It would be easier and less potentially costly to just not have feedback forums, etc. at all, and blame the religious loons for ruining it for everyone.

    • autonomous

      Marcus Aurelius, “If it is not right, do not do it. If it is not true, do not say it.” We don’t need more laws.

      • Bruce C.

        I agree. It’s a cynical response and I don’t want to give any ideas to the narcissists.

    • dauden

      Totally ignorant of MK Ultra and Monarch slave forms of forced prostitution…..no freedom to the victim who has their mind programmed into multiple personality disorder through trauma based incidents…..i.e. most of your pop artists and country music entertainers.

  • DonRL

    Are the going to hold ATT or Apple or Verizon, etc. responsible of someone uses the phone to plan a murder?
    Will they hold a car manufacturer responsible if someone uses a car in a murder or robbery?
    Will they hold an airline responsible if someone travels to another city to commit a crime?
    ETC!!!
    Where will it stop?
    This is a slippery slope!!

  • Terry5135

    All laws are written this way. Most extreme case, new law, everyone pays. It’s contrary to basic legal maxims like “Hard cases make bad laws.” But hey, if a law is ostensibly intended to save little girls and their kittens, who objects. Obvious example – The Patriot Act and the early casualty of it, Tamera Jo Freeman.

  • kenmcentee

    ..

    • autonomous

      No doubt Discus helps censor us.

      • dauden

        yup ! quite frequently

        • Don Duncan

          I post radical comments (in both senses) and have not been censored.

  • kenmcentee

    What irony. Daily Bell posts article about Internet censorship, then censors my comments about the article.

    • normajeana

      The government censorship comes with fines, arrests and destruction of one’s life, not to mention the inability to have a website free of government control. Being ‘censored’ on a privately owned website is hardly the same.

      • kenmcentee

        It is total hypocrisy. And government censorship doesn’t necessarily come with those things.

  • Don Duncan

    “…warning lawmakers that if they pass the law…”? This “warning”, i.e., using reason to communicate negative consequences, is based on the assumption that rulers have the same goals as the ruled. They don’t. Most statists know they are fraudulently promoting their own power at the expense of the populace. Those who don’t are too brainwashed to reach.

    Creation of political power is the problem, not the specific harmful laws. How do you deter a ruler? Violent threats do not work. That’s their means, their expertise, their advantage. Threatening violence from weakness is foolish and self destructive. But attacking the premise that systemized violence is moral or practical? Now that’s what they fear. They know their power can be revoked. And that’s the real reason they want to censor. Censorship is necessary for the continued exploitation of the many by the few. It is even the essential aspect of control in North Korea, where one might think the use of threats/violence is all that is needed because of the overwhelming imbalance of physical power. N. Korea stays in power by promoting fear of foreign invasion. The US Empire conspires with it by holding a threatening naval show of force right off its shore and has done so for over half a century. Both benefit by playing the protector from a foreign threat. Both know they could end the illusion, but why would they? Peace is no good for rulers. Fear is.

    And if the fear is not enough, probably because the domestic economy has been ruined by rule, actual war is the ultimate distraction. It is good for political control. “War is the health of the state.”

  • blackdog

    Government. Look up the root word, understand that root and get back to me on what our ‘governments’ actually represent, versus the root word.

  • Rosicrucian32

    Prostitution may be the world’s oldest, but the politicians have brought their version of it to levels of obscenity that hookers can’t even charge extra for………..

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