Read the full article by The Editorial Board of the LA Times on LATimes.com
The Senate bill would rewrite the federal sex trafficking law exempt from Section 230’s immunity, allowing companies to be prosecuted not just for participating in sex trafficking, but also for “knowingly assisting, supporting or facilitating” it. But that approach would actually make it harder to convict sites that are deliberately assisting sex traffickers, the U.S. Department of Justice has warned, because it would require prosecutors to show that the site operators knew of specific instances of minors being offered for sex or adults being coerced into prostitution. At the same time, it would encourage sites that monitor their users’ posts to stop doing so, just so they could avoid even being accused of knowingly assisting traffickers.
A previous version of the House bill would have taken a more workable approach, barring sites from being operated “with the intent to promote or facilitate the prostitution of another person.” But the bill was amended on the House floor to add provisions similar to the Senate bill, importing all of those problems. It also would the restrictions and penalties retroactively, which the Justice Department said, with typical understatement, “raises a serious constitutional concern.” It’s not a concern, it’s a flatly unconstitutional change in the law.