FOSTA – A Quagmire of Denial of Freedom of Speech

Rabin Nabizadeh
March 27, 2018

In an almost unanimous passage, the Senate Bill titled, “Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act,” has provided law enforcement with power which will undermine the rights of individuals to speak out. While it may sound very politically and socially correct, Craigslist has already removed its Personal Ad section, and so have other social media sights. In a nut shell the law will hold web sites responsible for what an individual may post. Therefore, if someone posted that they are willing to trade sexual favors for profit, the web site can be held accountable.

This meant that Senate Bill 230, passed over 20 years ago, was essentially gutted in providing the
immunity that web sites previously enjoyed in allowing individuals to express themselves openly. With such an overwhelming endorsement, what will be next? There are certainly Right-Wing fringe groups which advocate violence; one would argue they are far more of a threat to our public safety than the encounters between consenting parties. But we are a democracy that was built upon the concept that we are entitled to our views.

The idea of fighting against Illegal Sex-Trafficking of children and anyone being forced into prostitution,
may be an honorable idea, but the methods that this law implements will do nothing. It will only press all aspects of the business into the darker features of the internet and back out onto the streets – a far more dangerous place.

This bill was opposed by the Department of Justice, who is responsible for the study and evaluation for the effectiveness of law enforcement. This law did not pass muster. In the open cyber world, those who are being coerced, are more present, they can be reached. But if those in adult, “legitimate” sex-trade are going underground, then what will that mean for those victim’s law enforcement find through the internet and rescue?

How will this work out if anyone goes on Face Book and chooses, for any reason, to say: “I’m a Prostitute”? And what of such web sites in Nevada where Prostitution is legal? Will the fact that
someone using the site in another state, where it is illegal, put that into question? There appears to be some very serious issues this law is attempting to regulate in a free society, but it does little or nothing to deal with the matters it purports to impact.

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