Sex Trafficking Bill Would Weaken the Internet Economy, Says ITIF

September 19, 2017

WASHINGTON—The Information Technology and Innovation Foundation (ITIF), a leading science and tech policy think tank, today released the following statement from Daniel Castro, ITIF vice president, warning against the unintended consequences of S. 1693, the Stop Enabling Sex Traffickers Act of 2017 (SESTA), which was the subject of a Senate Commerce Committee hearing today:

Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act ensures that online companies are not liable for the content posted by their users. This law is crucial to the Internet economy, and Congress should avoid weakening it. The bill would have severe consequences that would threaten free speech online and expose lawful companies to significant legal jeopardy. Moreover, it is unnecessary. Sex-trafficking is already a federal crime. Any company that engages in this activity can be prosecuted by the U.S. Department of Justice because Section 230 does not exempt companies from federal crimes. Rather than take a wrecking ball to one of the pillars of the Internet economy, Congress should instruct DOJ to use its existing authority to investigate and prosecute those who attempt to profit from exploitation and trafficking.