WASHINGTON — A judge’s dismissal of a legal challenge to FOSTA was plain and simple — the plaintiffs, including the Woodhull Freedom Foundation — lacked standing, or a vested interest, in the case.
Plaintiffs now are weighing what to do next after U.S. District Judge Richard Leon on Tuesday refused to grant relief over amendments to Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act that enable state prosecutors to apply their statutes against prostitution.
FOSTA, known formally as the Allow States and Victims to Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act, brings new tools for law enforcement, including the ability to bring criminal charges against the operators of sites that facilitate prostitution. The federal statute also allows for civil claims, as well.
Though Leon’s decision is certainly not what Woodhull and the other plaintiffs wanted, adult industry attorney Joe Obenberger — a former federal prosecutor who is not a party to the case challenging FOSTA — said the ruling is nonetheless “a decision rendering remarkable and profound protection concerning criminal liability under FOSTA.”
“Judge Leon’s decision goes very far to limit the government’s use of FOSTA against broad, vague claims that an online publisher somehow generally advanced prostitution,” Obenberger told XBIZ. “He used strong language to say that’s just not enough for a conviction.”