As the Google Transparency Project reports, Digital Media Association heaveyweight Google and its incumbent cronies like the Electronic Frontier Foundation, Engine Advocacy, the Center for Democracy and Technology, NetChoice and the Consumer Technology Association are out for blood to keep the legacy Communications Decency Act from being dragged into the 21st Century.
Miraculously, Google’s lobbying millions were no match for strong grassroots support behind Chairman Bob Goodlatte that got the much needed reform legislation over the goal line.
Remember this tense exchange between ex-Executive Chairman Eric “Uncle Sugar” Schmidt, Google’s head lawyer Kent “Loophole” Walker and a whistleblower at the Google shareholder meeting regarding Google’s opposition to the campaign to deny sex traffickers the safe harbor in the ancient Communications Decency Act:
Here’s the press release from the House Judiciary Committee:
The House of Representatives today passed the Allow States and Victims to Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act (FOSTA), a product of the House Judiciary Committee. This legislation provides restitution for sex trafficking victims and enhances criminal penalties for websites that facilitate illegal prostitution or sex trafficking.
House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) has issued the following statement:
Chairman Goodlatte: “Over the past year, the House Judiciary Committee has worked directly with prosecutors to understand how new legislation could help them enforce existing laws and hold bad actors accountable for sex trafficking online. We have also explored changes to the criminal code that would disincentivize websites from knowingly promoting or facilitating illegal prostitution. The summation of the Committee’s investigative work is FOSTA, a bill that gives restitution to victims and creates harsher penalties for bad actor websites that facilitate horrendous criminal acts. I believe the provisions in this legislation will make the internet safer and give victims the criminal and civil means to punish wrongdoers and move forward with their lives.”
What FOSTA does:
- Holds Bad Actors Accountable: clarifies that section 230 of the CDA does NOT grant immunity to websites that facilitate sex trafficking.
- Creates a New Federal Crime: websites that have the intent to promote or facilitate illegal prostitution can be prosecuted under the new 18 U.S.C 2421A created by the bill.
- Increases Criminal Penalties: prosecutors can seek higher penalties for websites who promote the illegal prostitution of 5 or more persons or act with reckless disregard for the fact that sex trafficking occurs on their website.
- Enforces Existing Laws: allows state and local prosecutors to enforce sex trafficking statutes and the new 2421A.
- Provides Restitution for Victims: gives victims of sex trafficking a pathway to sue bad actor websites for conduct violating the new criminal law, 2421A.
The House Judiciary Committee last year held a hearing to review the impact of the Communications Decency Act on sex trafficking online. In December 2017, the Committee approved FOSTA by voice vote.