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New law would undermine Section 230 protections, allowing troll farms to destroy online discussion sites

Posted By: MrFusion
Date: Monday, 26-Feb-2018 02:19:54

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
FOSTA Would Be a Disaster for Online Communities
Frankenstein Bill Combines the Worst of SESTA and FOSTA. Tell Your Representative to Reject New Version of H.R. 1865.

By Elliot Harmon - February 22, 2018

The House of Representatives is about to vote on a bill that would force online platforms to censor their users. The Allow States and Victims to Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act (FOSTA, H.R. 1865) might sound noble, but it would do nothing to stop sex traffickers. What it would do is force online platforms to police their users’ speech more forcefully than ever before, silencing legitimate voices in the process.

Back in December, we said that while FOSTA was a very dangerous bill, its impact on online spaces would not be as broad as the Senate bill, the Stop Enabling Sex Traffickers Act (SESTA, S. 1693). That’s about to change.

The House Rules Committee is about to approve a new version of FOSTA [.pdf] that incorporates most of the dangerous components of SESTA. This new Frankenstein’s Monster of a bill would be a disaster for Internet intermediaries, marginalized communities, and even trafficking victims themselves.

If you don’t want Congress to undermine the online communities we all rely on, please take a moment to call your representative and urge them to oppose FOSTA.

FOSTA would undermine Section 230, the law protecting online platforms from some types of liability for their users’ speech. As we’ve explained before, the modern Internet is only possible thanks to a strong Section 230. Without Section 230, most of the online platforms we use would never have been formed—the risk of liability for their users’ actions would have simply been too high.

Section 230 strikes an important balance for when online platforms can be held liable for their users’ speech. Contrary to FOSTA supporters’ claims, Section 230 does nothing to protect platforms that break federal criminal law. In particular, if an Internet company knowingly engages in the advertising of sex trafficking, the U.S. Department of Justice can and should prosecute it. Additionally, Internet companies are not immune from civil liability for user-generated content if plaintiffs can show that a company had a direct hand in creating the illegal content.

The new version of FOSTA would destroy that careful balance, opening platforms to increased criminal and civil liability at both the federal and state levels. This includes a new federal sex trafficking crime targeted at web platforms (in addition to 18 U.S.C. § 1591)—but which would not require a platform to have knowledge that people are using it for sex trafficking purposes. This also includes exceptions to Section 230 for state law criminal prosecutions against online platforms, as well as civil claims under federal law and civil enforcement of federal law by state attorneys general.

~~~~~ continue at ~~~~~

https://www.eff.org/deeplinks/2018/02/fosta-would-be-disaster-online-communities





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