New Bill Introduced To Study Impact Of SESTA/FOSTA On Sex Workers

from the good-to-see dept

A few months back, we were pleasantly surprised to see Rep. Ro Khanna announce plans to introduce a bill that would study the impact of FOSTA on sex workers. Earlier this week, he came through, introducing the SAFE SEX Workers Study Act, which he’s introducing with Rep. Barbara Lee in the House. On the Senate side, Senators Elizabeth Warren and Ron Wyden have introduced the companion bill. You can read the bill here. It would task Health & Human Services with studying the impact of FOSTA on sex workers, in coordination with the Centers for Disease Control and the National Institute of Health.

The bill is quite clear in laying out the concerns these elected officials have about the overall impact of FOSTA:

?There has been a host of anecdotal reporting from sex workers and community health organizations that following the enactment of SESTA/FOSTA, sex workers have faced greater threats of physical and sexual violence, as they are increasingly pushed off on-line platforms and onto the streets to seek clients. Despite these reports, no national study has been conducted to assess the impacts of SESTA/FOSTA on sex workers,? said Rep. Ro Khanna. ?Sex workers have relied on such internet platforms to screen clients and negotiate boundaries for consensual, transactional sex services, including condom use and other harm reduction strategies. While SESTA/FOSTA was intended to curb online sex trafficking, by banning the ?promotion of prostitution,? a host of internet platforms relied on by sex workers have shut down. My bill would mandate the first national study investigating how the shutdown of websites in connection with SESTA/FOSTA impact the health and safety of people who rely on consensual, transactional sex. I?m proud to partner with Rep. Lee, Senator Warren and the many advocates on this critical issue.?

?For far too long, SESTA/FOSTA has demonized and harmed sex workers,? said Rep. Lee. ?Instead of preventing sex trafficking, SESTA/FOSTA made it harder for sex workers to access critical health and safety resources. We need the full picture ? that?s why I?m proud to work with Rep. Khanna and Senators Warren and Wyden on this legislation to study the full effects of SESTA/FOSTA. It?s imperative we ensure that everyone has the full picture when making reproductive health decisions.?

?As lawmakers, we are responsible for examining unintended consequences of all legislation, and that includes any impact SESTA-FOSTA may have had on the ability of sex workers to protect themselves from physical or financial abuse,? said Senator Warren. ?I?m glad to be working with Representatives Khanna and Lee, and Senator Wyden to do just that with the SAFE SEX Workers Study Act.?

?Last year I warned that forcing websites to take down any mention of sex work would remove agency from sex workers and put them at great risk of violence and abuse, all while making it harder to catch sex traffickers and aid victims of human trafficking. So far, initial reports from cities across the country show that violence against sex workers is rising dramatically and there?s little evidence that this law is helping victims. Representatives Khanna, Lee and Senator Warren are taking the common-sense position that HHS should study the impacts of SESTA-FOSTA on the most vulnerable members of society, so that Congress can make informed policy decisions, rather than chasing knee-jerk responses,? said Senator Wyden.

As some are noting, this study could be a first step to repealing FOSTA-SESTA (though the law is still being challenged in the courts as well).

The bill already has a bunch of co-sponsors — though I’ll note that there are no Republican cosponsors, so the bill at this point is not bipartisan. Also of note, one of the cosponsors (as far as I can tell, the only one where this is true), Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman of New Jersey, was also a cosponsor of FOSTA. Still, Senator Warren did vote for SESTA in the Senate, so it’s good to see her appear to recognize that may have been a mistake. It’s still not clear if this bill will go anywhere, but just the fact that some in Congress are recognizing that FOSTA may have put more people in danger (even as it was pitched as a way of “protecting” victims) is at least a good start.

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Comments on “New Bill Introduced To Study Impact Of SESTA/FOSTA On Sex Workers”

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Anonymous Anonymous Coward (profile) says:

Fox to conduct study of chickens welfare in the hen house

I applaud the intent, but I worry about putting the studies in the hands of an Executive branch that has been un-shameful in directing agencies to pursue their political agendas rather than serve the people.

This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it.

Anonymous Anonymous Coward (profile) says:

Re: Re: Fox to conduct study of chickens welfare in the hen hous

You forgot the /s.

If you didn’t, however, how about the dogs hired to protect the hen house from the foxes. In this instance, some external organization that has a reputation for integrity and pure scientific and statistical rigor and is reasonably removed from governmental influences. Better, several organizations that will conduct independent surveys where results could be compared by any Joe or Jane sixpack.

Anonymous Anonymous Coward (profile) says:

Re: Re: Fox to conduct study of chickens welfare in the hen hous

Oh, I am non partisan when it comes to presuming government types (certainly two branches, sometimes three) are doing things in their own interest, rather than in the interest of the people. Its been a long time since we have seen different, for two of the three branches at least.

Stephen T. Stone (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Trump’s not going to be president forever.

Forever? No. Even Trump will die. But for the rest of his life? Of that, I’m not so sure — especially given how hard the GOP defends him and how much it tries to rig elections in its favor through gerrymandering and voter purges. I could see Trump and the GOP agreeing to cancel the 2020 election with the excuse of “we can’t secure the election so we’ll have to wait on holding one”.

Thad (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

I could see Trump and the GOP agreeing to cancel the 2020 election with the excuse of “we can’t secure the election so we’ll have to wait on holding one”.

I’ve been seeing variations on that conspiracy theory every election since I’ve been old enough to vote in them. So far it hasn’t happened.

Stephen T. Stone (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2

Trump and the GOP have the perfect excuse, though:

Our electoral infrastructure is too susceptible to interference from foreign adversaries. Until such time as the government can ensure an election free from as much interference as possible to ensure fair results, it will not hold an election.

It would go right in line with Trump and the GOP, too. Trump wants to be an authoritarian dictator like his friend Vladimir Putin (see: his comments on Article II). The GOP has actively fought efforts to beef up election security and fight disinformation from, among other sources, Russia. And Trump was just impeached for trying to extort an investigation of a political rival from a foreign power.

I’m not saying a “postponement” of the 2020 election is definitely going to happen. I’m not even saying it’s even being discussed (or has been discussed) by Trump and the GOP. But I am saying that, all things considered, such a thing happening isn’t outside the realm of possibility.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:4 Re:

Martial law may come after a city goes up from a nuclear blast or after a portion of California breaks off into the Pacific or some similar catastrophe like a small biological outbreak or a portion of the population gets microwaved. It is a distinct possibility that it is well past the planning stages. They are just tidying up their bunkers and making last minute preparations, getting the last of their supplies in order. The UN troops are already in America. The gillotines are in warehouses. Once martial law has been declared , the chip implants will start. Then all hell should break loose. House to house takedowns. People shot on the spot. Its going to be biblical.

R/O/G/S says:

Re: Re: Re:5 Re:

Hurricane Katrina was, um, kinda like that, including cops murdering people.
And DHS Fusion Centers tracking and targeting activists-many of whom end up murdered, as we saw with the,Ferguson situation- your comment is eerily not funny.

Then again, the DHS employs online spooks to robo-post your exact type of comment, so theres that….

Must be a slow day there at the Fusion Center, huh?

https://www.techdirt.com/articles/20140526/12474727366/dhs-fusion-centers-monitored-occupy-wall-street-activities-using-powerful-tools-like-google-twitter.shtml

Stephen T. Stone (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:4

You say that like the GOP didn’t even think about it. Given how the Republicans treated Obama during his two terms, and given everything we know about how Republicans try to stack election decks in their favor through voter suppression and gerrymandering, I would have put it inside the realm of possibility. And given how they’re (almost) all trying to keep Trump in office by sacrificing their dignity and credibility, I would consider the possibility of a suspension of the 2020 election for “election security” reasons to be real, if inherently small.

But hey, if the Republicans are willing to shirk their constitutional duties as a check on the president’s powers, I have to wonder what else in the Constitution they’re willing to sacrifice for the power they so desperately crave.

This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:9 Re:

LTNS, nasch卍.

As I recall, you are a Nazi, right?

Idiot.

Read the guys post, he himself nearly admits his own indulgence in known conspiracy ideology.

Oh, thats right, now I remember: you seldom/never engage with the material matters at hand, prefering instead to quibble and bicker.

Meanwhile, another ROGS Bingo on the manufactured terrorism card, as yet another guy goes ballistic after organized gangstalking in Pensacola, as yet ANOTHER guy is cyberstalked by FBI/CIA,affilliated Mossadi jihadis online and off.

Scary Devil Monastery (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

"I’ve been seeing variations on that conspiracy theory every election since I’ve been old enough to vote in them. So far it hasn’t happened."

True enough but…there are a LOT of things under the Trump presidency everyone would have said "It wouldn’t happen".

Not even Nixon comes close.

I don’t believe the GOP as a whole would want to cancel elections over Trump. I just believe there’s a non-zero chance the shameless career creeps who’ve lashed themselves to Trump’s chariot would try.

This comment has been deemed insightful by the community.
That One Guy (profile) says:

Like blind-firing a gun and not caring who it hits

The bill already has a bunch of co-sponsors — though I’ll note that there are no Republican cosponsors, so the bill at this point is not bipartisan.

Something that really needs to be brought up and hammered home until it sticks is that if those that were in favor of the original bill are not in favor of a study to see if it actually does what it was claimed to, they either don’t care what the result were, nicely destroying any claims that they may have made about how they were in favor of FOSTA because of the ‘poor victims’ they were using for PR, or they know full well that FOSTA has not had good results and they don’t want that to be officially recognized.

In either case I really cannot think of a good reason to not want to study the effects of the law, but I can certainly think of several self-damning reasons why a politician wouldn’t want that sort of study done, and for any that refuse to back it they really need to be forced to answer why, if only to see them squirm and come up with lousy excuses.

Thad (profile) says:

Re: Like blind-firing a gun and not caring who it hits

Something that really needs to be brought up and hammered home until it sticks is that if those that were in favor of the original bill are not in favor of a study to see if it actually does what it was claimed to

That’s not necessarily the case. Warren voted for SESTA but she’s co-sponsoring this new bill.

That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: Re: Like blind-firing a gun and not caring who it hits

Which would mean she wouldn’t be one of the people I’m talking about. She voted for the original bill and she’s in favor of a bill that would set up a study to see if it actually worked, whereas my comment is aimed at those that voted for FOSTA but aren’t in favor of the study into it’s impact.

This comment has been deemed insightful by the community.
bobob says:

Wow! A bill to study the impact of a bill which is already widely held to be bad! As soon as it passes the house and the senate and doesn’t get vetoed, the government can spend lots of money and the next several years having a select committe of navel contemplaters (or "navel consultants") find ways to debate an issue which most of the rest of the universe has already settled after which said committe will arrive at the opposite conclusion and recommend making it more oppressive.

When angling for re-election it’s always good practice to "address concerns" to reel in the people who would be put off if you voted for the bill and then wait until after the election to report that the findings really back up your vote.

This comment has been deemed insightful by the community.
bob says:

Re: Re:

Doing a study on the effectiveness of a law is great. It should happen for every law passed. Yes it will cost money but getting empirical proof is so much better than just assuming the result.

I agree FOSTA was badly legislated and should be repealed but we dont know the full extent of it’s influence until a study is conducted. We might find the negative impacts were not as bad or worse than anyone thought. At a minimum we can use it as evidence for how to better legislate in the future, if the politicians will pay attention to the results.

This comment has been deemed insightful by the community.
bobob says:

Re: Re: Re:

[quote]Doing a study on the effectiveness of a law is great. It should happen for every law passed. Yes it will cost money but getting empirical proof is so much better than just assuming the result. [/quote]

How about doing the study of the concept prior to even starting to write the bill? It’s not like FOSTA was so intricately nuanced that the side effects being considered hadn’t been pointed out many times prior to passing the law. If legislators actually studied legislation before passing to suit the way the wind was blowing on their election campaigns, the need to study the effects after passing legislation would be a rarity.

Another example was the Communications Decency Act, which passed the senate with a vote of 81-18 (if I recall) and against which an injuction was imposed and later upheld by a unanimous supreme court ruling. There is no way to convince that more than 1 or 2 senators would have not realized this before ever putting pen to paper (considering most are lawyers.)

I’m not about to cut any slack to a legislative body whose actual job is to study and understand the legislation they are voting on. Call it for what it is – appealing to the emotional response of voters by using fallacious logic and wording designed specifically to improve their chances of being re-elected.

The phrase that comes to mind is, "Why is there always enough time to do something twice, but not enough time to do it right the first time?" (You can include money along with time.) If they aren’t up to the task of doing things right the first time, they aren’t smart enough to be in a position of telling anyone else what to do.

bobob says:

Re: Re: Re:

Here’s an idea. Any legislation that is passed that gets struck down or has parts of it invalidated by a unanimous supreme court ruling, automatically disqualifies every legislator who voted for it from ever running for a federal office again with the sponsors of the legislation being expelled for the remainder of their term and then banned for life. It’s pretty safe to say that anything that gets all 9 justices to agree was unconstitutional, was a fucked up piece of legislation written by demagogues.

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Anonymous Coward says:

When your aim is to punish those who choose to engage in sex work even more than it is to catch traffickers, you don’t want an impact study on your law when it was sold to the public under the guise of, "we need to stop mass kidnappings of children to be sold into sex slavery (on the internet)". The inciting bullshit claims and moral panic couold only last so long, god forbid anyone look into it after the fact.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

The government is screening sex workers for the bunker complex system when they will live out the war duration underground and employ google autonomous vehicles to scour the surface for signs of life. Several major projects, corporations flew sex workers to camps to do what they do because work was hard and long and people just have to be people sometimes.

This comment has been deemed funny by the community.
Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

These newly employed underground workers will drive golf carts around delivering the paper for the underground, wearing a patch on their shirt or blouse that reads, ‘PSST’ for physical stress & social therapist. Just call them over and schedule an appt by whispering, "psst!"

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