A bill in Congress to combat sex-trafficking on the Internet is drawing considerable opposition from a coalition of privacy experts and activists for its apparent threat to free speech, according to a report in Joseph Farah’s G2 Bulletin.
Aaron Mackey wrote in a legislative analysis for the Electronic Frontier Foundation of his opposition to the Senate’s proposed Stop Enabling Sex Trafficking Act and a House counterpart, which would roll back Section 230 of federal law, which is described as “one of the most important laws protecting online free speech.”
Section 230, he explained, generally immunizes Internet intermediaries from legal liability for hosting user-generated content.
“Many websites or services that we rely on host third-party content in some way – social media sites, phot and video-sharing apps, newspaper comment sections, and even community mailing lists,” Mackey pointed out.
“This content is often offensive when, for example, users make defamatory statements about others. With Section 230, the actual speaker is at risk of liability – but not the website or blog.”
The objective of curbing sex trafficking is laudable, he explained, but he insisted the bill doesn’t accomplish that.
Supporters argue the change doesn’t affect the law’s “Good Samaritan provision,” which “protects good actors who proactively block and screen for offensive material.”
Mackey said Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, a sponsor of the legislation, is “simply wrong about the bill” when he states it would not impact “good” platforms.
Mackey explained Section 230 actually contains two immunities, with the first protecting online platforms from liability for hosting user-generated content that others claim is unlawful.