Senator Portman Pushes Forward With SESTA, Despite Being Misinformed

from the this-is-bad dept

It appears that Senator Rob Portman has decided to push forward with SESTA -- the Stop Enabling Sex Traffickers Act -- a bill with problems we've discussed in great detail. Despite previous suggestions that the bill would not move forward until there were important fixes in place, it's now been announced that a committee vote will happen next week. It's possible that the bill will be amended prior to that vote, but as of right now, that's not clear. (Update: And about the time this post was published, a a manager's amendment has been pushed out. It fixes some of the most egregious problems with the bill, but leaves most of the problems intact.)

In support of this renewed push, Portman has published an opinion piece at Wired that no fact checker should have allowed. It is fully of completely faulty statements, and fairly incredible ones at that. It's kind of scary that it appears that Portman may be looking to undermine some fundamental principles of how the internet works based on a bunch of false statements. Even the title is just wrong:

How Federal Law Protects Online Sex Traffickers

It doesn't. Federal law is clear that law enforcement can go after sex traffickers. There is nothing in SESTA about going after sex traffickers. SESTA is entirely about going after internet platforms because someone may have used them in the process of "facilitating" sex trafficking.

It is a stain on our national character that sex trafficking is increasing in this country, in this century, and experts say it is happening because of the internet and the ruthless efficiency of online sex trafficking.

So much to unpack in this one sentence. As discussed earlier, the supposed epidemic of sex trafficking is grossly exaggerated. That is not to say it doesn't happen -- because it quite clearly does, and when it does happen, it's a serious problem. But Portman specifically has massively exaggerated the scope of the problem, and when you do that it's easier to support ridiculously overbroad "solutions" that would actually turn the small problem into a much bigger problem.

Sex trafficking has moved from the street corner to the smartphone, and online sex trafficking has predominately occurred through one website: Backpage.com.

And, as explained multiple times, if Backpage has, in fact, broken the law, there are already laws to deal with it. Backpage itself has already shut down its adult section (which only became big after politicians pressured Craigslist to do the same -- suggesting that chasing traffickers from platform to platform won't do much to stop trafficking). Just a few years ago Congress passed the SAVE Act, specifically targeting Backpage. It has not been used. Instead of passing another law, perhaps Portman should be asking why it hasn't been used? Similarly, CDA 230 has never covered federal crimes. The DOJ has always been able to target Backpage if it was violating the law (and it's been reported that the DOJ already has a grand jury investigation going into Backpage's actions). So why do we need a new law?

Headlines tell the tragic stories: In March 2013, police reported that a Miami pimp forced a teen to tattoo his name on her eyelids. In June 2017 in Chicago, feds charged a man for prostituting a 16-year-old girl before her murder. That same month, three people were accused of pimping a pregnant teen for sex.

All of these stories are horrible. But all of them involve criminals who were caught, with some of the evidence coming from Backpage. So, it seems like a bigger question may be: why aren't the police working harder to scan Backpage for evidence of these crimes and stopping them earlier? In the past, we've noted that law enforcement has successfully used these sites as tools to track down pimps and traffickers. It seems so odd to focus all of the attention on websites rather than the actual traffickers. It's almost as if Portman is trying to take the blame away from the traffickers themselves.

These heinous crimes, and countless others, involve Backpage, and yet the website has repeatedly evaded justice for its role in child sex trafficking.

Because Backpage wasn't doing the trafficking. And again, if they were, law enforcement is already able to go after the platform.

Despite these facts, courts have consistently ruled that a federal law called the Communications Decency Act protects Backpage from liability for its role in sex trafficking. This 21-year-old law was designed to ensure websites aren’t held liable for crimes others commit using their website. The legislation has an important purpose, but now, because of broad legal interpretations, it is used as a shield by websites that facilitate the sale of women and children for sex.

This is both wrong and a sleight of hand. First, no court has said that Backpage is protected from its role in sex trafficking. If Backpage is actively involved in the sex trafficking itself, it does not qualify for CDA 230 protections. And, again, even without that, there is no immunity in CDA 230 for federal crimes (and, again, the DOJ has a grand jury going on this). The fact that Portman is so proactively misrepresenting nearly everything should worry people.

Similarly, sites are not using CDA 230 "as a shield," but to make it clear that the focus should be on actual traffickers rather than on the tools they use.

Traffickers use cars as well. Will Portman's next bill be holding Ford and GM responsible for any trafficking that uses cars?

The Communications Decency Act should not protect sex traffickers who prey on the most innocent and vulnerable among us.

IT DOES NOT. It never has. Nothing in CDA 230 protects traffickers. Traffickers are violating the law and law enforcement has every right to go after them. Hell, the three examples that Portman presented above all involve traffickers arrested by law enforcement. That seems to contradict his own point.

I do not believe those in Congress who supported this bill in 1996 ever thought that 21 years later, their vote would allow websites to knowingly traffic women and children over the internet with immunity.

Again, if it the sites themselves are involved in the trafficking, then CDA 230 already doesn't cover them.

However, courts and attorneys generals have made it clear that their hands are tied. In the most recent example, in August, a Sacramento judge threw out pimping charges against Backpage because of the liability protections afforded by this 1996 law, and he invited Congress to fix this injustice.

No. Their hands are tied in prosecuting Backpage without evidence of Backpage itself breaking the law. That's different. It doesn't tie their hands in prosecuting actual traffickers. And it doesn't stop them from prosecuting Backpage for evidence of actual crimes. Notice how Portman conveniently leaves out that while the judge in Sacramento threw out the pimping charges (because Backpage isn't doing the pimping) it let the case move forward on money laundering claims. In other words, Backpage is still in court, despite Portman implying that the entire case was dismissed.

This injustice is why I, along with more than two dozen of my colleagues from both sides of the aisle, introduced the Stop Enabling Sex Traffickers Act.

The bill would do two things. First, it would allow sex trafficking victims to get the justice they deserve by removing the law’s unintended liability protections for websites that knowingly facilitate online sex trafficking. Second, it would allow state and local law enforcement to prosecute websites that violate federal sex trafficking laws.

Portman is misleading in his description of his own bill. It does not only apply to those who "knowingly facilitate online sex trafficking." The "knowledge" standard in the bill is extraordinarily broad, covering "knowing actions" that are then used to facilitate sex trafficking. The distinction may be subtle, but it's huge. It means that a platform just needs to know about what its service can do, not the outcome. Wikipedia "knows" that people can add links to its online encyclopedia. It doesn't "know" when someone advertises sex trafficking via such a link. But under the current standard in the bill, that doesn't matter. The language about knowledge of how a service works, rather than the illegal activities, is a real problem with this bill.

The bill will achieve these ends without threatening the years of progress we have made in creating a free and open internet.

He says this despite the fact that nearly every internet company and expert says he's wrong. And plenty of sex trafficking experts as well. Just this week, a sex trafficking expert who helped write the State Department's own report on sex trafficking has said that this would create huge harms for the internet and for victims of sex trafficking.

The standard for liability in our bill is a high bar to meet.

This is simply incorrect. Multiple tech and legal experts have explained this over and over again. Simply saying there's a high bar does not make it true. The plain language of the bill shows that the bar is extraordinarily low.

Some in the tech community incorrectly claim that this bill will expose innocent websites to frivolous lawsuits. But my Senate colleagues and I carefully crafted this legislation to remove immunity only for websites that can be proven to have intentionally facilitated online sex trafficking.

Again, he can repeat this false claim as much as he wants, and it still doesn't make it true. The language in the bill is clear. If he wants it to only target those who have "intentionally facilitated online sex trafficking" he needs to change the language. Daphne Keller, at Stanford, just released a paper this week on ways to fix SESTA, and someone should send a copy to Portman.

There are already exemptions in the Communications Decency Act’s liability protections for intellectual property violations that exist without undermining the fundamental intentions of the law. It is unreasonable to suggest the result of a narrowly tailored exemption against knowing sex traffickers would be any different.

This is the most frustrating line in the entire piece. If Portman had the slightest bit of understanding about how the DMCA's notice-and-takedown provisions are routinely abused to censor the internet, there's no way he'd claim that it hasn't "undermined" anything. The fear here is that SESTA creates a kind of DMCA notice-and-takedown on steroids, because it adds possible criminal penalties. From the description here, it almost appears as if Portman doesn't even know that DMCA safe harbors exist for copyright, or that the lack of CDA 230 coverage for trademarks created a massive influx of court cases until eventually the courts effectively said that there was a DMCA-like safe harbor over trademarks as well.

In short, Portman seems to be either making an argument out of pure ignorance, or intentionally misrepresenting what's happening on the intellectual property side of the fence.

We have a moral responsibility to protect the most vulnerable among us and combat this injustice. Every day we wait is too late for countless vulnerable women and children.

And yet, absolutely nothing in SESTA actually protects those victims. They will still be trafficked. The bill only targets internet companies providing platforms that traffickers use. They will keep using the internet to traffic, even if badly targeted lawsuits take those companies down. Indeed, it's likely that they'll move to platforms that make it more difficult for law enforcement to figure out what's going on. SESTA will make the problem worse, not better, and will create tremendous collateral damage in the meantime.


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  • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 3 Nov 2017 @ 9:47am

    Section 230 "legalizes" what's illegal if on paper.

    An immunity from normal law bought by corporations. It clearly does not serve the public.

    SESTA is only removing privilege from mega-corporations which are currently profiting from crimes.

    That's the reason corporatist Masnick is panicked and runs so many of these long pieces on it.

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    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 3 Nov 2017 @ 9:55am

      Re: Section 230 "legalizes" what's illegal if on paper.

      We all know what the real intentions are here, so let's not play games about .... would applaud removal of the NRA from the internet?

      Yeah, I didn't think so.

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      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 3 Nov 2017 @ 10:25am

        Re: Re: Section 230 "legalizes" what's illegal if on paper.

        >>> We all know what the real intentions are here, so let's not play games about .... would applaud removal of the NRA from the internet?

        Geez, I don't know what the "real intentions" are, or whether I have them. Please elucidate. And without "playing games about".

        Is the "NRA", by which I assume National Rifle Association, in ANY way publishing something illegal? What would that be? How does the NRA's advocacy of 2nd Amendment Rights guaranteed in the Constitution compare to sex trafficking?

        Doesn't appear that you think any more than to pick an organization you oppose and use it for vague innuendo, then go off as if your point is entirely proven.

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        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 3 Nov 2017 @ 11:52am

          Re: Re: Re: Section 230 "legalizes" what's illegal if on paper.

          Tools are usually made for a specific task, however they are soon misappropriated and used where they should not ... and you think this will not be abused - ok then.

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    • identicon
      Rekrul, 3 Nov 2017 @ 10:08am

      Re: Section 230 "legalizes" what's illegal if on paper.

      Section 230 "legalizes" what's illegal if on paper.

      So the Post Office should be held liable for people sending drugs through the mail? The Department of Transportation should be held liable for criminals using the roads? The phone companies should be held liable for phone scams?

      Tell you what, I'll find a drug dealer and get him to sell drugs while standing on your property and then you can be held liable for his crimes. Does that sound good to you?

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        identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 3 Nov 2017 @ 10:19am

        Re: Re: Section 230 "legalizes" what's illegal if on paper.

        That should have read: Section 230 "legalizes" solicitations that are illegal if published on paper.

        No print magazine DARES do this. It's sheerly a loophole made because "on teh internets".

        Tell ya what. Print out similar salacious advertisements on paper and tack them up on bulletin board at work -- not in secret since you say it's perfectly legal -- and see if management has no problem with those being up, and whether your employment continues if you persist in it.

        That's a real world test you can do which will prove my point.

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        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 3 Nov 2017 @ 10:35am

          Re: Re: Re: Section 230 "legalizes" what's illegal if on paper.

          That should have read: Section 230 "legalizes" solicitations that are illegal if published on paper.

          No, it doesn't. Please stop lying.

          Tell ya what. Print out similar salacious advertisements on paper and tack them up on bulletin board at work... blah blah blah...

          1. Section 230 does not immunize platforms for what their own employees post.
          2. "Salacious" is not illegal.

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            Anonymous Coward, 3 Nov 2017 @ 10:45am

            Re: Re: Re: Re: Section 230 "legalizes" what's illegal if on paper.

            >>> That should have read: Section 230 "legalizes" solicitations that are illegal if published on paper.

            >>>> No, it doesn't. Please stop lying.

            1) Sure it does. And will get worse without efforts to stop. Masnick right above says that there's associated behavior which is prosecutable. Advertising those is ONLY allowed on "teh internets". I bet you can't find a single clear example in print.

            2) Even if I was wrong, it's my belief and characterization of what I fully regard as law, not lying.

            @ your # 1. That's not the example I stated. I said that if YOU advertise these services in print, even merely copying the ad, with implied AND get noticed by any officialdom, there'll be adverse consequences.

            @ your # 2. "Salacious" was bad word choice by which I meant advertising sexual services, and you're only seizing on the word to not deal with my main point.

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            • identicon
              Anonymous Coward, 3 Nov 2017 @ 11:54am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Section 230 "legalizes" what's illegal if on paper.

              Nice doge attempt, you got some on you though.

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            • identicon
              Anonymous Coward, 3 Nov 2017 @ 3:07pm

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Section 230 "legalizes" what's illegal if on paper.

              Dude, they hand out titty cards by the thousand on the sidewalk in Vegas with the phone numbers of prostittes.

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              • icon
                MyNameHere (profile), 5 Nov 2017 @ 6:22am

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Section 230 "legalizes" what's illegal if on paper.

                You understand why they can do that, right?

                In Vegas, they don't have escorts. They literally have refined it down to a very, very impressive science of sliding besides the law by marketing it as "girls to your room". They are a strict introduction service and they collect a flat fee for the introduction - PERIOD. The girl is basically, at your room for X minutes as part of that fee, and that's it!

                If the girl chooses to offer other services, it's on her.

                Their advertising? It's very simple and very clear - just a picture and a phone number. The picture is never totally nude, there is never the promise of or even the suggestion of sex. Call them, and you get a complete stonewall on the situation, entirely on purpose. The operators that handle the calls (and yes, they are pro "closers") will not ever go there, no matter how hard you twist them into it. They won't talk bust size or skills or anything like that. It's pure "girl to your door to meet", end of concept. It is very narrowly controlled to assure that it does not cross any legal boundary. They are very, very smart.

                For what it's worth, and 75% of that business is controlled by one guy, who has tons of operators and tons of phone numbers all going to one central office that does it all. They are very, very slick.

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                • identicon
                  Anonymous Coward, 5 Nov 2017 @ 7:56am

                  Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Section 230 "legalizes" what's illegal if on paper.

                  And the issue with SESTA is, if somebody posts such a 'card' on your site, and the girl has been trafficked, or is underage, you become liable for facilitating a crime.

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        • icon
          orbitalinsertion (profile), 3 Nov 2017 @ 11:03am

          Re: Re: Re: Section 230 "legalizes" what's illegal if on paper.

          Personal ads existed in print before the internet, and still do. They are legal on paper. Prostitution (almost everywhere) and the trafficking of others (everywhere) is already illegal. Papers aren't liable for what they don't know, either.

          Are you saying that every personals ad on the internet is an ad for paid sexual services provided by an enslaved victim? They are all just cover for sex trafficking, and the platforms know this?

          I'm sure next you will want to arrest everyone who hooks up anywhere, ever. Who is to say those two leaving their friends' wedding reception early are not a perverted client and a sex worker enslaved by a pimp?

          If anyone is that concerned about victims of sex trafficking, there are a lot of other ways to make sure that far fewer people are potential victims in the first place, and fewer people choose to sell sex on their own. The latter, illegal or not, and whether you find it immoral or not, has nothing to do with what SESTA is advertised as.

          The latter being illegal in the first place is like throwing kids in jail on child pornography charges over sexting (or "playing doctor"). Treating the medium through which they offer sex, whether for fun or profit, as criminal itself, is ridiculous. But again, it is already illegal for platforms to knowingly do so. SESTA just makes pretty much any personal ad into potentially "knowingly promoting the trafficking of forced sex" with respect to platforms. Again, this is ludicrous. And as noted repeatedly, this will do lees than nothing to stop victimization of our fellow humans. In the case of actual trafficking ads, this is like, i don't know, blaming YouTube as causing harm when stupid criminals hand over evidence of their crimes by uploading video. It's a damn freebie. But i guess if the law can't obtain evidence by rifling through everyone's phone or internet traffic, it's too cheap, easy, and no fun or something.

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        • icon
          Mike Masnick (profile), 3 Nov 2017 @ 11:09am

          Re: Re: Re: Section 230 "legalizes" what's illegal if on paper.

          No print magazine DARES do this. It's sheerly a loophole made because "on teh internets".

          Um. This doesn't change that. The SAVE Act from 2 years ago already made such ads online illegal.

          So why do we need SESTA?

          Tell ya what. Print out similar salacious advertisements on paper and tack them up on bulletin board at work -- not in secret since you say it's perfectly legal -- and see if management has no problem with those being up, and whether your employment continues if you persist in it.

          That's a real world test you can do which will prove my point.

          That is not even remotely analogous. First salacious is not illegal. Second, employer/employee relationships have nothing to do with criminal prosecutions. Third, putting up an illegal ad is already illegal. The "analagous" situation here is if you had an open community bulletin board in a public park... and someone posted an ad for sex trafficking. But rather than go after the person who posted the ad, you and Portman seem to think the correct response is to shut down the park and to jail the Park's Commissioner.

          That's just dumb.

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          • identicon
            Anonymous Coward, 3 Nov 2017 @ 12:24pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re: Section 230 "legalizes" what's illegal if on paper.

            But rather than go after the person who posted the ad, you and Portman seem to think the correct response is to shut down the park and to jail the Park's Commissioner.

            That's just dumb.

            But what if that Commissioner knew about the ad and knew that it was illegal. Nevertheless, said Commissioner erected numerous other bulletin boards and reposted that same ad on them. Under Section 230, the Commissioner has done nothing actionable since the content was created by someone else.

            Would love to hear your thoughts on why this type of conduct needs to be protected. It seems to me that this is the point you keep avoiding.

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            • identicon
              Anonymous Coward, 3 Nov 2017 @ 1:35pm

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Section 230 "legalizes" what's illegal if on paper.

              But what if that Commissioner knew about the ad and knew that it was illegal.

              Then, like it says all over the article, the commissioner would NOT be protected under section 230.

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            • icon
              Bergman (profile), 3 Nov 2017 @ 8:06pm

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Section 230 "legalizes" what's illegal if on paper.

              The big problem with SESTA is that even if the instant the commissioner becomes aware of the illegal ad being posted, he rushes over and tears it off the board, he'd still be criminally liable.

              Because he facilitated the posting of the message by having a bulletin board the public could post on, and he had to have knowledge there was an illegal ad on that board in order to remove it.

              The facts that the bulletin board has been there since before his grandfather was born, or that he removed the ad instantly upon becoming aware of it would be completely irrelevant as SESTA is written.

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        • identicon
          anonymous, 3 Nov 2017 @ 11:32am

          Re: Re: Re: Section 230 "legalizes" what's illegal if on paper.

          And the person who posts the paper will be prosecuted, not the company that owns the bulletin board.

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        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 3 Nov 2017 @ 1:51pm

          Re: Re: Re: Section 230 "legalizes" what's illegal if on paper.

          Magazines often choose their own ads. Websites instead typically have a 3d party doing that.

          Your analogy doesn't work as well as you think it should.

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        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 3 Nov 2017 @ 2:10pm

          Re: Re: Re: Section 230 "legalizes" what's illegal if on paper.

          Are you joking? These ads have been in print magazines for years. That's where "Backpage" gets its name.

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    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 3 Nov 2017 @ 10:10am

      Re: Section 230 "legalizes" what's illegal if on paper.

      Same could be said for your standards of evidence in "copyright enforcement". A random string of numbers and you want to harass families for money? Bitch, please.

      Have a DMCA vote. Bought by your corporations, blue boy!

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        identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 3 Nov 2017 @ 10:36am

        Re: Re: Section 230 "legalizes" what's illegal if on paper.

        I can't make any sense out of those words other than that you're full of rage and incoherent.

        So, thanks for typical Techdirt response! That's all I need to prove my points.

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        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 3 Nov 2017 @ 3:09pm

          Re: Re: Re: Section 230 "legalizes" what's illegal if on paper.

          You of all people should not accuse people of being incoherent.

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    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 3 Nov 2017 @ 10:30am

      Re: Section 230 "legalizes" what's illegal if on paper.

      How many lies can you put into one comment?

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        Anonymous Coward, 3 Nov 2017 @ 10:49am

        Re: Re: Section 230 "legalizes" what's illegal if on paper.

        >>> How many lies can you put into one comment?

        I'm not here to deal with random philosophical and metaphysical questions. Indeed, I'm not falling for the endless questions tactic. I can only guess that you try to imply that I'm lying. Please try to state a point on topic and show where I've lied -- not just contradict. I bet you can't.

        So, thanks to you too for exampling Typical Techdirt!

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    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 3 Nov 2017 @ 10:42am

      Re: Section 230 "legalizes" what's illegal if on paper.

      >Section 230 "legalizes" what's illegal if on paper.

      No it doesn't, all is say is if you let users place adverts without somebody at the company looking at them, then the company is not held responsible for what the users published.

      With newpapers on the other hand, more than one person looks at any advert for the purposes of page layout, proof reading etc. and so it is reasonable to expect them to filter out adverts for obviously illegal services.

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        Anonymous Coward, 3 Nov 2017 @ 10:54am

        Re: Re: Section 230 "legalizes" what's illegal if on paper.

        >>>With newpapers on the other hand, more than one person looks at any advert for the purposes of page layout, proof reading etc. and so it is reasonable to expect them to filter out adverts for obviously illegal services.

        THANKS! Right, we DON'T allow it in a newspapers!

        You first contradict then PROVE my point! I guess you argue that "There's too much to check! It's all automated!" -- Well, that's a problem with "teh internets", and it's why the public shouldn't necessarily allow corporations to just go on ignoring illegalities. Burden them same as print publishers.

        Thanks for agreeing.

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        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 3 Nov 2017 @ 11:18am

          Re: Re: Re: Section 230 "legalizes" what's illegal if on paper.

          >Burden them same as print publishers.

          Print publishers are selective about what appears in print because it is a limited resource. The burden they have is filling the limited space with that which will attract their main audience. The side effect of this is that most people have no voice, because they cannot gain the attention of an editor for speech to be published.

          Newspapers are selective because they have a limited space in which to publish, and target a single audience. Backpages, YouTube etc. are not publishers, but are more like roads, they allow publishers to get their content to their audience, while placing adverts alongside the road.

          A few adverts for illegal services, and a bit of copyright infringement is a small price to pay for benefits to society that the Internet brings, a vast increase in the published works that are available, and enabling individuals to co-operate and teach and learn without having to pay the corporations for the privilege.

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        • icon
          That One Guy (profile), 3 Nov 2017 @ 8:16pm

          Re: Re: Re: Section 230 "legalizes" what's illegal if on paper.

          Burden them same as print publishers.

          You do realize that if TD for example was forced to pre-vet content your content would almost certainly not get posted, right? You wouldn't be the only one screwed out of being able to post, but the safest course of action for a site like this if it were to be liable for user comments would be to not have them.

          Along those lines I certainly hope you haven't ever been one of those complaining about having their comments caught by the spam filter and delayed, as it would be grossly hypocritical to complain about that to then turn around and argue for something that would require it.

          It never ceases to be amusing watching people arguing for the very thing that would shut them down. It's like watching someone standing on a bridge, arguing for that very bridge's destruction.

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          • identicon
            Anonymous Coward, 3 Nov 2017 @ 11:35pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re: Section 230 "legalizes" what's illegal if on paper.

            That's exactly who out_of_the_blue is, and exactly what he's arguing for. He's going to argue that his comments are made both easier and harder to post online so he gets to blame Techdirt no matter what happens. He's just that much of an idiot.

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      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 3 Nov 2017 @ 10:55am

        Re: Re: Section 230 "legalizes" what's illegal if on paper.

        … without somebody at the company looking at them…

        47 USC § 230 applies whether or not the “provider of an interactive computer service” looks at “any information provided by another information content provider”.

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    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 3 Nov 2017 @ 10:47am

      Re: Section 230 "legalizes" what's illegal if on paper.

      You mean like how car companies are profiting off of crimes committed that use cars?

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        Anonymous Coward, 3 Nov 2017 @ 10:57am

        Re: Re: Section 230 "legalizes" what's illegal if on paper.

        >>> You mean like how car companies are profiting off of crimes committed that use cars?

        **No, I don't. I mean internet services.** But IF you can show where car companies are profiting from ANY crimes, then YES, I'm all for prohibiting and prosecuting to full extent of the law.

        You are clearly a Master of the Loony Unrelated Analogism.

        Thanks for exampling Techdirt at its usual.

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        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 3 Nov 2017 @ 3:10pm

          Re: Re: Re: Section 230 "legalizes" what's illegal if on paper.

          Next thing you know you’re going to be literally begging for your posts not to be hidden. Remember the last time you did that. We do.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 3 Nov 2017 @ 5:46pm

          Re: Re: Re: Section 230 "legalizes" what's illegal if on paper.

          Criminals obtain money by committing crimes.
          Criminals buy cars with their criminal money.
          Therefore car makers are profiting from crime.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 3 Nov 2017 @ 9:51am

    By the same logic

    Congress has enabled interstate highways to be built, and congress knows that people traffickers use those roads, therefore congress is guilty of enabling that trafficking.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
      identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 3 Nov 2017 @ 10:30am

      Re: By the same logic

      You believe it's legal if "people traffickers" put up advertisements on interstate highways (with corporations assisting)? ... No? Well, then you agree with me.

      Also, like 3 above, you have a terminal case of Loony Unrelated Analogism. How about deal with the facts and instances: Internet mega-corporations are allowing advertisements which are illegal for print publishers.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 3 Nov 2017 @ 10:52am

        Re: Re: By the same logic

        Print publications would only make sense as a comparison if all issues of said publications were currently being written by any random person who walked in off the street, and automatically printed and distributed without any employee intervention. Which sounds a lot like graffiti. So, yeah, what you're saying is that print publishers should be held responsible for the content of any graffiti that may appear on the walls of their building.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
          identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 3 Nov 2017 @ 11:02am

          Re: Re: Re: By the same logic

          >>> "Print publications would only make sense as a comparison if"

          No, it's the instant case. CDA Section exists EXACTLY to provide immunity on "teh internets" which isn't available to those who put ink on paper. Period.

          Now, we've experimented and the Internet is becoming a sewer -- with corporations profiting from that and causing more. The Wild West phase is over, been given fair trial, now it's time to roll it back a bit.

          Problem is that corporatist extremists such as Masnick can't be reasonable. They've no interest in civil society, will HAPPILY wreck it for profits.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • identicon
            Anonymous Coward, 3 Nov 2017 @ 11:45am

            Re: Re: Re: Re: By the same logic

            Now, we've experimented and the Internet is becoming a sewer

            The Internet looks like the sort of things that you search for, so if you think it is a sewer it says something about what you search for.

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • identicon
            Anonymous Coward, 3 Nov 2017 @ 3:09pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re: By the same logic

            "now it's time to roll it back a bit"


            What ever that means ...

            my guess is censoring like china, NK, Ruskies, and a bunch of dictatorships across the globe. And third party liability like ummm where are they doing this right now? And good examples?

            Immunity? Perhaps that word is a bit strong in this case, I think you meant .. not liable for the actions of others.

            Fair trial .. lol

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 3 Nov 2017 @ 9:59am

    Switchboard operators

    Maybe they should hire the switch board operators from the Andy Griffith show to implement this.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 3 Nov 2017 @ 10:31am

    You really need to stop calling it that

    Sesta really stands for Start Enabling Sex Traffickers Act, and we should refer to it as such.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 3 Nov 2017 @ 10:46am

    Well she could even negotiate her way out of a simple trade blockade

    Or warn the senate about palpatine, why should be trust her now?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 3 Nov 2017 @ 10:55am

    This really feels like one of those situations where a congressperson is projecting. Like one of those times some one who is pushing all kinds of anti-legislation and then it turns out they've been hiring gay prostitutes. Maybe this guy has partaken at an establishment involved in sex trafficking and now it weighs heavy on his conscience.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    TheResidentSkeptic (profile), 3 Nov 2017 @ 11:39am

    Yellow Pages

    For many years, the yellow pages have had ads for "Escort Services", "Massage Parlors", and "Lingerie Modeling".

    Seems to me that no one prosecuted the telcos ... but then again, they do give a LOT of campaign contributions...

    Maybe that's the "problem" with these internet services... they are making money and not sharing it...

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    That Anonymous Coward (profile), 3 Nov 2017 @ 12:57pm

    "We have a moral responsibility"

    So how about you call out the members cheating on their spouse?
    How about calling out the members who hire hookers?

    How about the moral responsibility of gun makers?
    If you can't explain why Backpage needs a law to allow them to be sued for others actions, but the gun industry has laws protecting them from the same treatment for those helpless victims of gun violence.

    Clean your own house before telling us how to take care of ours. You refuse to use the laws already in place & use lies to "win". You are a stain on our nation, who is using fear mongering and half-truths to score election points.

    All of this effort and focus to screw the internet, pretty sure the VA still isn't taking care of veterans yet you assholes still have all your benefits.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 3 Nov 2017 @ 3:18pm

      Re:

      They say "Thank You For Your Service" and "Honor The Troops" while in cigar filled back rooms they agree to decrease VA funding which was already not enough to support the existing troops, much less those still out in the field. All the while they visit high schools encouraging kids to join the "adventure", "see the world" promising them a lot of things the will never materialize.

      This pisses me off

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 4 Nov 2017 @ 9:09pm

      Re:

      This isn't going anywhere. It might impede the president's tweets.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
    icon
    MyNameHere (profile), 3 Nov 2017 @ 1:40pm

    Section 230 versus the Obvious Wrong

    Mike, I have to say it's not often that you pull out the big guns anymore and try to rip an article top to bottom to try to discredit it. You have gone all out here, but I think you are in the unhappy place of having to basically support sexual abuse in order to protect your beloved section 230.

    This is exactly that sort of situation I have mentioned in the past. Section 230 is incredibly broad in nature (too broad, really) and something like this was bound to happen.

    Where do I start?

    "Federal law is clear that law enforcement can go after sex traffickers. There is nothing in SESTA about going after sex traffickers. SESTA is entirely about going after internet platforms because someone may have used them in the process of "facilitating" sex trafficking."

    Perhaps this is one of your most self-serving responses ever. Yes, Federal law allows law enforcement to go after sex traffickers. But the point you are carefully stepping around is that Backpage and others have been allowed to stand behind section 230, accept anonymous ads, and be completely free of any responsibility for doing so, even when the have clear knowledge of the intent of the ads. They can (and have) continue to run the ads when it's clear what they are for.

    As someone else pointed, print magazines all got away from this sort of thing because they know it's illegal. Section 230 and section 230 ALONE created an exception that lets online media get away with what everyone else would not do. That quite simply is not acceptable.

    "Their hands are tied in prosecuting Backpage without evidence of Backpage itself breaking the law."

    Misleading.

    You have to (again) frame this in real world terms. A print magazine with the same content would be prosecuted, anything from aiding and abetting to pandering, for printing the same material. We aren't talking those sly "meet for a discreet encounter" types of dating site come ons, this is a series of near nude images, measurements, touting their "skills", and so on. In the real physical world in print, the magazine would be in serious trouble. There is no reason, save section 230, that Backpage is emboldened to do what they have been doing.

    The effects of section 230 are broader than even your Sainted Wyden would have expected. What it ends up doing is creating such a huge protection for Backpage, that even with a criminal prosecution of one of the ad's girls in hand, they likely could do nothing more than ask Backpage nicely to take her expired ads down.

    " absolutely nothing in SESTA actually protects those victims."

    You are wrong.

    The sex trade is driven by money, and money alone. Pimps don't entrap girls into being sex workers for fun, they do it to make money. If the girl ain't making money, she's useless. The aggressive use of online services to promote prostitution is based on a pure economic model - cost versus return. It drives money into their ecosystem, and in turn into pimp's pockets.

    When you work to take the money out of the game and make the product less available, you do end up protecting the victims (and future victims) by making the crime less desirable, which leads to fewer victims.

    This would be doubly true in cases where the entire operation depends on Backpage style ads to drive business. Modern online pimps are not up for fighting for street corners or actually having to do real world battle to operate. Online creates millions of new virtual street corners with nobody beating you up over them.

    You also have to consider the convenience factor, as well as the safety factor. Backpage running the ads creates a certain amount of credibility for those ads. Consumers trust the Backpage brand, and as such, consumers who might not engage in the activity (ie, wouldn't go looking for a street corner ho) will follow up on ads in Backpage. They create a bigger marketplace than might otherwise exist, make casual punters feel safer, and allow casual pimps and sex workers to make income without the risks inherent to an illegal activity.

    Sorry to say Mike, but even with all your usual good logic, you are on the wrong side of this one. I know it's going to blow a hole in section 230, but I have said it for years - the over broad nature of section 230 creates the makings of it's own demise.

    My suggestion? Work with your buddy Wyden to change section 230 before it gets totally shot down. Narrow it's scope. get rid of some of the more obvious "blinds" that it creates for criminal actions, and update the law such that the core principals still exist, without criminals being able to so easily take advantage (and for companies like Backpage to build shady business models on section 230 alone). Then you might have something.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 3 Nov 2017 @ 2:12pm

      Re: Section 230 versus the Obvious Wrong

      you are in the unhappy place of having to basically support sexual abuse in order to protect your beloved section 230.

      Talk about "pulling out the big guns", what a lie. You are truly despicable.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 3 Nov 2017 @ 2:27pm

      Re: Section 230 versus the Obvious Wrong

      Your logic is illogical and highly misinformed.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 3 Nov 2017 @ 3:19pm

      Re: Section 230 versus the Obvious Wrong

      Wall-o-text

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 3 Nov 2017 @ 7:29pm

      Re: Section 230 versus the Obvious Wrong

      Your lovebuddy out_of_the_blue supports Harvey Weinstein because Masnick criticized him.

      You really sure you want to use "sexual" as an attack angle?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      MyNameHere (profile), 4 Nov 2017 @ 3:23am

      Re: Section 230 versus the Obvious Wrong

      ..and once again, a valid comment with proper points raised is censored by those who would rather put their hands over their ears and yell "lalalala" rather than think.

      Congrats, you guys are special.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 4 Nov 2017 @ 5:24am

        Re: Re: Section 230 versus the Obvious Wrong

        Complaining about comments being hidden while supporting a bill that demands censorship, you are really special when it comes to cognitive dissonance.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 5 Nov 2017 @ 5:35pm

          Re: Re: Re: Section 230 versus the Obvious Wrong

          Some folk are not capable of recognizing/admitting their own hypocrisy and certainly do not see the irony in their conflicting positions.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        MyNameHere (profile), 5 Nov 2017 @ 3:14pm

        Re: Re: Section 230 versus the Obvious Wrong

        .. and remarkably, someone from the staff figured out it must have been an attack, because the comment is back and visible. How, umm, special.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 6 Nov 2017 @ 5:43am

          Re: Re: Re: Section 230 versus the Obvious Wrong

          Replying to yourself consecutively... aww, you really do miss Hamilton. It's okay, take as much time as you need to grieve.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Uriel-238 (profile), 3 Nov 2017 @ 2:56pm

    Not a nerd.

    Senator Rob Portman is not a nerd, but he disagrees.

    And we wonder why the big social networks sent lawyers rather than executives when Congress wanted a hearing.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Uriel-238 (profile), 3 Nov 2017 @ 3:01pm

    As the bump-stock compromise is showing us...

    ...it's less important to the Senate that they do something productive than they look like they're doing something productive.

    They don't want to fix the problem, only give the appearance that they're taking action.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    ECA (profile), 3 Nov 2017 @ 4:38pm

    old days AND bogus laws..

    i HEARD OF A SITUATION THAT WAS CREATED FOR A law ON THE BOOKS, never ENFORCED..
    At the time I think it was created to control Newspapers or movie Theaters,,,

    It was a way to REMOVE the company..ONLY.
    It gave OTHERS power over 1-2 SPECIFIC agencies.

    the Problem here is that he is using 1 SOURCE NAME..and not telling you that THIS could be said of ANY site on the net, and PROOF would destroy MOST SITES..

    Like Claiming RAPE and Child molestation on ANY MALE PERSON.. The man would have to PROVE his innocence. and the COSTs would bankrupt and STILL put him in jail..

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 3 Nov 2017 @ 6:46pm

    Internet censorship by the West is a growing issue.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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