Internet Association Sells Out The Internet: Caves In And Will Now Support Revised SESTA

from the and-there-goes-that dept

This morning, at about the same time as I published my article criticizing Senator Portman's decision to push forward with SESTA, an amended version of the bill was released, that has only a few small changes. Most notably it appears to improve the "knowledge" standard, which was definitely the worst part of the bill. The original bill had the following standard:

The term ‘participation in a venture’ means knowing conduct by an individual or entity, by any means, that assists, supports, or facilitates a violation...

The concern here was twofold. "Knowing conduct" means knowing of the conduct, not the outcome. That is, knowing that people can comment, not that those comments "facilitate" a violation of sex trafficking laws. That's way too broad. Separately, the "assists, supports, or facilitates" language is very broad, and includes completely passive actions (facilitates), rather than active participation.

The updated manager's amendment fixes... just some of this. It now says:

The term 'participation in a venture' means knowingly assisting, supporting, or facilitating a violation...

So now it's "knowingly" doing the other things, rather than just "knowing conduct." That's better. But, it's still very broad. And the "facilitation" is still there. Making it "knowingly facilitates" certainly helps, but it's still much broader than before. Because you have now created what is effectively a notice-and-takedown system for all kinds of content. Someone just needs to claim that your site "facilitates" sex trafficking, and now you have "knowledge." Thus, the strong incentive will be to remove, remove, remove. As we already see, the DMCA notice and takedown provisions are widely abused. Anyone who thinks this won't be widely abused has not been paying attention.

Furthermore, even "knowingly assisting, supporting, or facilitating" is going to lead to a lot of problems. We know this because we already lived through it with the DMCA. The entire 10 year fight between Viacom and YouTube was, in large part, over the definition of "knowing." Because Viacom wanted it to be a broad standard of "knowing that bad stuff happens on the platform," while YouTube argued (correctly) for an "actual knowledge" meaning, which means that you would have to have knowledge of specific content that violates the law, and then be responsible for removing that specific content. If you just make "knowing" the standard, without the "actual knowledge" part, you're in for lawsuits arguing that general knowledge makes you guilty. And that could impact tons of companies.

Take Tinder. The incredibly popular dating app is almost certainly used by some sex traffickers to traffic people against their will. Here's an article from three years ago talking about sex trafficking on Tinder. Boom. Now Tinder has "knowledge" that its platform is "assisting, supporting, or facilitating" sex trafficking. It may now be both civilly and criminally liable. So, you tell me, what should Tinder do to get rid of this liability? I'll wait. And if you think no one will bother to sue Tinder over something like this, need I remind you of the many lawsuits we've been writing about in which people are suing every social media platform because vaguely defined "terrorists" use the platform?

At least under the DMCA there's a clear "safe harbor" setup, whereby companies know the conditions under which they need to remove stuff to avoid liability. SESTA has no safe harbor language. It just says knowledge. But then what? We're in for years of litigation before courts determine what the hell this means, and that likely means startups will die. And others will never even have a chance to get off the ground.

And, once again, this doesn't solve the other giant concern we had about the original bill, which is that this will encourage platforms to stop helping law enforcement and to stop monitoring their platforms for trafficking, because doing so can constitute "knowledge" and make them liable, if they are unable to wave a magic wand and make all such conduct disappear.

In other words, the new bill is still hugely problematic.

And that's why it's extremely troublesome that the Internet Association -- the giant lobbying organization representing larger internet companies, has now come out in support of the new SESTA:

“Internet Association is committed to combating sexual exploitation and sex trafficking online and supports SESTA. Important changes made to SESTA will grant victims the ability to secure the justice they deserve, allow internet platforms to continue their work combating human trafficking, and protect good actors in the ecosystem.”

“Internet Association thanks cosponsors Sen. Portman and Sen. Blumenthal for their careful work and bipartisan collaboration on this crucially important topic and Chairman Thune and Ranking Member Nelson for their leadership of the Commerce Committee. We look forward to working with the House and Senate as SESTA moves through the legislative process to ensure that our members are able to continue their work to fight exploitation.”

I honestly am flabbergasted at this move by the Internet Association. This will do serious, serious harm to tons of internet companies. Since the Internet Association represents the bigger tech companies, perhaps they stupidly feel that they can handle the resulting mess. But smaller organizations are going to die because of the overreach of this legislation. This is a shameful move in which the Internet Association has sold its soul.

I know that many of the big internet companies were under lots of pressure this week from Congress over things like Russian ads, and it almost feels like this is their attempt to appease Congress, since some in Congress have (totally incorrectly) framed the SESTA debate as being one where tech companies were opposing efforts to stop sex trafficking. Since they're already fending off charges of helping foreign adversaries undermine elections, perhaps they felt they didn't want to add bogus claims of supporting sex trafficking to the pile.

But, this is a bad, bad decision. Yes, the manager's amendment is slightly better, but it's not good. It's bad for the internet. It's bad for free speech. And the fact that the Internet Association has stupidly put its stamp of approval on this is going to make it much more difficult to stop. Already Senators Blumenthal and Portman are pretending that because the Internet Association is on board, it means all of "tech" is on board. This is wrong and it's dangerous. The large members of the Internet Association may be able to survive this mess (though it will be costly) but smaller organizations are going to be harmed. And, in the end, it will do nothing to stop sex trafficking, and could even make the problem worse.


Reader Comments

Subscribe: RSS

View by: Time | Thread


  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 3 Nov 2017 @ 3:03pm

    Big tech isn't stupid

    "smaller organizations are going to die because of the overreach of this legislation"

    Bingo.

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

  • icon
    That Anonymous Coward (profile), 3 Nov 2017 @ 3:07pm

    How long do you think it will take for them to finish with the little guys, backpage, and then turn their eye on the rest of the ecosystem.

    All these companies you represent, and none of you can find a single ad agency to explain your not passing around kidnapped kids online?

    Do remember when you scream to the rest of us to save you & we look down and say no.

    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 @ 3:09pm

      Re:

      It's about time TD rethought their unyielding praise of Silicon Valley lobbyists.

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

      • icon
        Mike Masnick (profile), 3 Nov 2017 @ 3:20pm

        Re: Re:

        It's about time TD rethought their unyielding praise of Silicon Valley lobbyists.

        It's amazing to me that you think my consistent position (this is a bad bill that will harm the internet and its users) is me "rethinking my positioning."

        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 @ 3:25pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          It's not your positioning that's being rethought it's the idea SV lobby will only be used for ends you consider good.

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

          • icon
            Mike Masnick (profile), 3 Nov 2017 @ 3:34pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            Can you point to where anyone here ever suggested such a crazy idea? Because it sounds like you made it up.

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

            • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
              icon
              Richard Bennett (profile), 3 Nov 2017 @ 5:02pm

              Robber Barons

              I have to wonder what the robber barons of SV will do when robbing is made illegal. Might they pivot to doing beneficial stuff that's perfectly lawful in the legacy world?

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

              • icon
                Bergman (profile), 3 Nov 2017 @ 7:47pm

                Re: Robber Barons

                Forget silicon valley, this law as written will hold Congress itself criminally liable if someone so much as spray-paints "for a good time, call..." on a wall of the capitol building.

                Removing the graffiti would constitute knowledge, and having a wall there to be painted would be facilitation.

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

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 3 Nov 2017 @ 3:31pm

        Re: Re:

        It's about time you rethought your unyielding love of underground sex trafficking.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 3 Nov 2017 @ 4:47pm

      Re:

      If this is enacted, how long before Pornhub and friends are under siege and bleeding money to defend themselves?

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

  • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
    icon
    Richard Bennett (profile), 3 Nov 2017 @ 3:49pm

    First they came for the sex traffickers...

    Then they came for the pirates. And that was the big freakout.

    This looks like progress. Silicon Valley's free pass to profit from unlawful and antisocial behavior is coming to and end.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 3 Nov 2017 @ 4:09pm

      Re: First they came for the sex traffickers...

      And then they came for dumb assholes named Richard who Godwined the thread because he doesn’t understand the difference between a speech about genocide and a really bad bill designed to stifle free speech.

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

      • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
        icon
        Richard Bennett (profile), 3 Nov 2017 @ 4:51pm

        Re: Re: First they came for the sex traffickers...

        I dunno, little AC, but it seems to me that sex trafficking isn't exactly the same thing as free speech. But I don't think selling other people's stuff without the appropriate licenses isn't free speech either.

        Help me clarify: when the US dropped the atom bombs on Japan, was that what you call speech?

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

        • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
          icon
          Richard Bennett (profile), 3 Nov 2017 @ 4:52pm

          Re: Re: Re: First they came for the sex traffickers...

          Oops, double negative and this site is too primitive for editing comments.

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

    • identicon
      Thad, 3 Nov 2017 @ 4:34pm

      Re: First they came for the sex traffickers...

      Pretty rich for a guy who's spent the past 11 years leaving smug comments on tech sites where nobody likes him to complain about "antisocial behavior".

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

      • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
        icon
        Richard Bennett (profile), 3 Nov 2017 @ 4:54pm

        Re: Re: First they came for the sex traffickers...

        I've been leaving smug comments that nobody likes for a lot longer than 11 years, you nitwit.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 3 Nov 2017 @ 4:12pm

    I think killing the little guys is part of the plan. All the better for the big players to maintain control of the Internet without those pesky competitors giving people the ability to say things they don't like.

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

  • icon
    Toom1275 (profile), 3 Nov 2017 @ 5:12pm

    Just ignore you-know-who. He's a verified professional corporate shill.

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

  • icon
    ECA (profile), 3 Nov 2017 @ 5:49pm

    NO NO NO NO...

    The term ‘participation in a venture’ means knowing conduct by an individual or entity, by any means, that assists, supports, or facilitates a violation...

    The term 'participation in a venture' means knowingly assisting, supporting, or facilitating a violation...

    This is BETTER?
    What happens if I explain COMMON KNOWLEDGE?? That we ALL know its there..
    PRINT IT, with common knowledge, and you can get arrested. OR HOw stupid do you NEED TO BE, NOT TO KNOW what is happening??
    GET PAID, and POST it in public View?? IN a localized section of Newspaper or NET??? FACILITATION..

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

    • icon
      Bergman (profile), 3 Nov 2017 @ 7:49pm

      Re: NO NO NO NO...

      Members of Congress could be prosecuted for sex trafficking under this law as written because the walls of the capitol building could be spray-painted with graffiti that promotes sex trafficking, and removing the graffiti would require knowledge that it is there.

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

      • icon
        orbitalinsertion (profile), 3 Nov 2017 @ 8:00pm

        Re: Re: NO NO NO NO...

        Or just because we know Congress is a group of people who are historically known to have members who indulge in coercive sexual acts. The whole place is a rape in progress. Book 'em, Dano.

        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 @ 5:59pm

    Challenge accepted!

    @ "[re "knowledge"] So, you tell me, what should Tinder do to get rid of this liability?"

    Just pay attention to what's on the site and remove that which your mother would find questionable.

    You premise everything on the loony "libertarian" notion that corporations MUST be allowed to do as please on the Internet with NO liability or responsibility, even while civil society is damaged. It appears that you WANT the damage.

    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 @ 6:00pm

      Re: Challenge accepted!

      But it's not a standard you apply in your own daily life.

      Do you want bars and restaurants allowing such solicitations? Drugs offered on the street to you and your kids? If there's an obvious prostitute standing in front of your house, do you just shrug and sidle past? Or would you call the police and try to get those persons moved elsewhere -- out of easy sight where belongs?

      Listen, I'm a realist and just want SOME limits on bad behavior, NOT openly displayed, without corporations causing more for indirect income. You, on other hand, say there must be NO limits or liability for sites because... it's on teh internets! That's your sole argument -- which you can make in public. Of course, your notion leads to tons of income for the type of grifting and sleaze corporations that you prefer. Making more money by causing society to decline is not new, either. -- We've tried PLENTY of de-criminalizing, and yet people get worse! I think that correlation is vital data.


      And by the way: where do you get the chutzpah to call everyone who disagrees a "sell-out"? Just no one can possibly have a differing opinion on complex problems, eh? You sound like a hippie, not surprisingly. And while you pretend that corporate support to YOU doesn't affect your opinions. What a masnocrit.

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

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 3 Nov 2017 @ 7:08pm

        Re: Re: Challenge accepted!

        Clearly you're not a realist. A realist would be able to see the massive potential for abuse based on past court cases regarding section 230. If anything, you're are an idealist who won't consider that the problem isn't going to go away by shifting blame.

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

    • icon
      Stephen T. Stone (profile), 3 Nov 2017 @ 7:00pm

      Re: Challenge accepted!

      pay attention to what's on the site

      And that exposes why SESTA is a bad law. By paying attention to what content is on a site, that site’s admins know what is on the site. Under SESTA, having that knowledge makes the site and its admins legally liable for that content. SESTA would thus make it harder for services to both delete such content in a timely manner and cooperate with law enforcement. Section 230’s “safe harbor” protections give Internet services the legal leeway they need to properly do both of those things—and SESTA would undermine those just so politicians could be seen doing something about this issue.

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

      • icon
        Bergman (profile), 3 Nov 2017 @ 7:53pm

        Re: Re: Challenge accepted!

        If you were to remove the implicit 'on the internet' built into the law, you could use SESTA to prosecute Congress itself.

        Just have some pro-trafficking graffiti spray-painted on any wall -- internal or external -- of the capitol building, and simply having a paint-able surface is facilitation. Then to remove it would require knowledge it was there.

        With both facilitation and knowledge, prosecution could occur at the whim of a prosecutor, and by the letter of the law, convictions would swiftly follow.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 3 Nov 2017 @ 9:40pm

      Re: Challenge accepted!

      " civil society"

      Hahahahahaha - good one!
      Oh my - what a hoot

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 3 Nov 2017 @ 6:00pm

    Could this be used to censor content?

    Instead of a false DMCA could one post a fake add in the comments of sites they want censored?

    The anti-techdirt guys could post fake sex trafficking adds here forcing Masnic to shut down the comments section.

    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 @ 6:12pm

      Re: Could this be used to censor content? -- NO.

      @ "The anti-techdirt guys could post fake sex trafficking adds here forcing Masnic to shut down the comments section."

      You're saying that Masnick doesn't monitor and can't remove such quickly? That's basically all that SESTA will require. But sites don't want to because costs The Rich a tiny portion of their easy income.

      What prevents such falsehoods now, except that it's illegal and still would be? -- Besides the high likelihood that persons opposed to Techdirt simply don't think the way that you little fiends do. The way to take down Techdirt is simply to tell The Truth. The censoring above of comments well within common law shows that the site can't stand ANY opposition.

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

      • icon
        Stephen T. Stone (profile), 3 Nov 2017 @ 7:31pm

        Re: Re: Could this be used to censor content? -- NO.

        You're saying that Masnick doesn't monitor and can't remove such quickly?

        Yes, and that is the whole point: By monitoring and removing such content, the Techdirt admins would have knowledge of that content—and, under SESTA, would become legally liable for that content. Techdirt would then have only two ways to avoid that liability: Ignore the comments sections (which would take “knowledge” out of the equation) or kill the comments sections entirely.

        The censoring above of comments well within common law shows that the site can't stand ANY opposition.

        Please cite the specific law, common or otherwise, that says Techdirt must be forced to display someone else’s speech.

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

      • icon
        orbitalinsertion (profile), 3 Nov 2017 @ 8:09pm

        Re: Re: Could this be used to censor content? -- NO.

        "What prevents such falsehoods now, except that it's illegal and still would be?"

        You mean like other bogus notices? There are no consequences for false takedowns.

        On the flip side, sex trafficking is already illegal, so what is your point, and the point of SESTA? There are already ways to address these things, such as exactly the methods used in all the examples ever given...

        And what recourse does a person have who puts up a perfectly legal ad, but keeps having it "flagged" as trafficking? That seems way open for abuse on a personal level, never mind the platforms.

        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 @ 6:04pm

    Oh, we're back to Techdirt censoring all dissent.

    I haven't been checking for a while, so could enjoy the illusion that this was an open forum, not afraid of any opinion.

    I should know better after 8 years looking in.

    Techdirt talks free speech but means only that which fits its orthodoxy.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 3 Nov 2017 @ 7:21pm

      Re: Oh, we're back to Techdirt censoring all dissent.

      Keep fellating the RIAA, blue boy.

      It's cute that you think you're fooling anyone.

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

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

      Re: Oh, we're back to Techdirt censoring all dissent.

      There's no articulable reasons to not vote for such trolling spam to be collapsed.

      Dick is a verified corporate shill who has never contributed anything of value either here or on Ars where he also trolls. (I don't know what other places it might also infest)

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 3 Nov 2017 @ 6:57pm

    This is a tool/excuse for censorship plain and simple.
    The end justifies the means you say? What say you when it is pointed at you, not for the reasons stated when it was in its infancy but for expanded reasons .. because, why not?

    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 @ 8:10pm

    Techdirt has infallible system to hide extreme comments!

    THIS is your big opportunity to cash in, Masnick! Just package and sell how Techdirt hides comments "the Community" deems too extreme and damaging to even the battle-hardened minds of Techdirt experts to be seen without warning label and effort of a click.

    I'm being sarcastic as I'm sure you can't tell.

    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 @ 8:13pm

      Re: Techdirt has infallible system to hide extreme comments!

      Actually, you commit fraud that it's "the Community" and without administrator approval. Your purpose is to disadvantage dissent and drive dissenters from the site. There's no commenting guidelines, no reserving of rights, nor is hiding in the least predictable because of opinion or words used, and there's no appeal. Techdirt has never responded to my dozens of comments requesting at least numbers of alleged clicks out of how many readers, and whether an administrator approves. All regarding your precious "hiding" is unknown -- except that fanboys NEVER get their comments hidden -- while literally thousands of mine have been, routinely and with stated intent by fanboys to suppress, though all within common law and common decency. All of which unfairness and arbitrariness no doubt intentionally adds to enraging the victims of your fraud so that they'll leave and your FOOL opinions won't be contested.

      Huh. Now that I think on it, you just may be able to sell your unaccountable, randomly infuriating system to tech giants...

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

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 3 Nov 2017 @ 8:21pm

        Re: Re: Techdirt has infallible system to hide extreme comments!

        It's funny how you trolls love to bitch about Techdirt uncovering your anonymity... yet you insist on leaving so many breadcrumbs behind that scream your identity. Never mind the garbage you spew, any newcomer visiting the site can tell that you have an intensely burning, grudge-filled ax to grind.

        DMCA voted.

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

      • icon
        Stephen T. Stone (profile), 3 Nov 2017 @ 8:45pm

        Re: Re: Techdirt has infallible system to hide extreme comments!

        If a simple vote mechanism on a comments section of a tech blog can so easily silence your voice, you are not working hard enough to make your voice heard.

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

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 3 Nov 2017 @ 10:13pm

          Re: Re: Re: Techdirt has infallible system to hide extreme comments!

          For the love of all things holy, don't encourage him. Hamilton was a disaster and it took Shiva Ayyadurai eating a loss to get him to stop.

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

          • icon
            Stephen T. Stone (profile), 3 Nov 2017 @ 10:19pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re: Techdirt has infallible system to hide extreme comments!

            You miss my larger point: If that poster wants their voice heard, doing nothing but posting in the comments of a blog that they appear to despise—and having those comments subsequently hidden away—is expecting maximum results with minimum effort.

            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), 4 Nov 2017 @ 3:31am

    I don't think it's as hard as you trying to make it seem

    "knowingly assisting, supporting, or facilitating a violation..."

    Backpage having an "adult services" section would likely be knowingly assisting.

    Techdirt spotting and deleting a comment that pointed to an escort site? Not at all.

    I understand the scare techniques here, but it doesn't add up. A lack of knowledge and a lack of intent seem to be more than enough to be innocent here.

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

    • icon
      Stephen T. Stone (profile), 4 Nov 2017 @ 7:05am

      Re: I don't think it's as hard as you trying to make it seem

      Show me the specific parts of SESTA that are meant to avoid placing legal liability upon an Internet service for merely knowing that an illegal ad exists on said service.

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

    • icon
      That One Guy (profile), 4 Nov 2017 @ 8:30am

      Re: I don't think it's as hard as you trying to make it seem

      Backpage having an "adult services" section would likely be knowingly assisting.

      Because of course there is simply no legal 'adult service' that someone could offer, such that the only possible reason they could have that category is to cater to illegal activity.

      I understand the scare techniques here, but it doesn't add up.

      Only if you haven't been paying attention to a similar law in the past. You might be familiar with it, little thing called the 'DMCA'.

      'Someone just needs to claim that your site "facilitates" sex trafficking, and now you have "knowledge." Thus, the strong incentive will be to remove, remove, remove. As we already see, the DMCA notice and takedown provisions are widely abused. Anyone who thinks this won't be widely abused has not been paying attention.'

      You could of course argue that the DMCA isn't abused on a regular basis, such that a law that would have similar effects ramped up to eleven with criminal penalties on the line likewise wouldn't have similar effects, but you're probably not going to get many people here who'd been around long enough to buy that argument.

      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), 4 Nov 2017 @ 1:33pm

        Re: Re: I don't think it's as hard as you trying to make it seem

        "Because of course there is simply no legal 'adult service' that someone could offer, such that the only possible reason they could have that category is to cater to illegal activity."

        "Someone just needs to claim that your site "facilitates" sex trafficking, and now you have "knowledge." Thus, the strong incentive will be to remove, remove, remove. As we already see, the DMCA notice and takedown provisions are widely abused. Anyone who thinks this won't be widely abused has not been paying attention.'"

        You have swallowed Mike's opinion whole. Spit it out before you get a tummy ache!

        Seriously, claiming your site facilitiates isn't knowledge. I can claim you facilitate sex with small animals. That isn't proof o anything or knowledge.

        By that standard, all a single person would have to do is post a message (or send an email) to every site on the internet and boom, and they would all have knowledge. Not very logical, is it?

        Can you suggest some "adult services" that are legal, but you wouldn't want in your normal listings? Anything from trips to casinos to matchmaking could all be in the normal listings, and are on a regular basis. Backpage's adult ads are very specific in nature.

        These are ads and services they would not want to have in their main categories. Hmm, why? They are generally of a sexual nature. OH! So you know they are about sex, right? Hmm. Girl offering to meet at a hotel by the house. Hmm. Sounds like, what, prostitution?

        By creating the category, and filtering what goes in it, they are showing knowledge. Not some random person saying "hey, I found a sex ad on your site somewhere" but actual working knowledge of why they have the category and what is in it.

        Backpage has knowledge because they remove those ads from the rest of their site but specifically permit them here. If they didn't allow them at all, they would be fine. But knowing what they are and shuffling to a different category rather than removing them would be enough to meet the SESTA bar for knowledge.

        "You could of course argue that the DMCA isn't abused on a regular basis"

        All laws can be abused. However, DMCA and SESTA are not comparable. DMCA is a "party v party" type situation, where SESTA is "government v party". So random people (like yourself) can't overwhelm the system with fake reports that are in any way binding. You would be not better or no worse than someone filing a false police report.

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

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 4 Nov 2017 @ 2:31pm

          Re: Re: Re: I don't think it's as hard as you trying to make it seem

          …where SESTA is "government v party".

          From the latest version of the bill, sub-section 3(a)(2), which amends 47 USC 230(e) by adding a new paragraph (5)(A), beginning—

          any claim in a civil action brought under section 1595 of title 18 . . . .

          (Emphasis added.)

          18 USC § 1595(a)

          An individual who is a victim of a violation of this chapter may bring a civil action . . .

          In short, your claim that SESTA is strictly about “government v party” actions is simply false.

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

          • identicon
            Anonymous Coward, 4 Nov 2017 @ 10:12pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re: I don't think it's as hard as you trying to make it seem

            They can bring a action but only if they are the victim which would require proof of a crime. You know a conviction.

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

            • identicon
              Anonymous Coward, 5 Nov 2017 @ 3:03am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: I don't think it's as hard as you trying to make it seem

              … proof of a crime. You know a conviction.

              That's just not how civil remedies work.

              The well-known burden of proof for a criminal conviction is beyond reasonable doubt. In a civil action, the well-known standard is the lower threshold of preponderance of the evidence.

              While the current 18 USC § 1595(b)(1) provides for a stay of the civil action during the pendancy of any criminal proceeding “arising out of the same occurrence”, that is not a requirement for the initiation of criminal proceedings. Nor is it a requirement that any criminal proceedings which may begin must terminate in a conviction.

              A § 1595 civil action just doesn't depend on a criminal conviction.

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

        • icon
          That One Guy (profile), 4 Nov 2017 @ 8:20pm

          Re: Re: Re: I don't think it's as hard as you trying to make it seem

          You have swallowed Mike's opinion whole. Spit it out before you get a tummy ache!

          Of course, because agreeing with someone who has presented coherent arguments supported by multiple experts is so very unhealthy. I should be like you, the habitual contrarian, that's much healthier. /s

          Can you suggest some "adult services" that are legal, but you wouldn't want in your normal listings? Anything from trips to casinos to matchmaking could all be in the normal listings, and are on a regular basis. Backpage's adult ads are very specific in nature.

          ...

          Backpage has knowledge because they remove those ads from the rest of their site but specifically permit them here. If they didn't allow them at all, they would be fine. But knowing what they are and shuffling to a different category rather than removing them would be enough to meet the SESTA bar for knowledge.

          That was a lot of text to say that no, you don't believe there is any such thing as a legal adult ad.

          They likely kept adult ads separate to avoid having people screeching about how the site is filled with nothing but filthy porn, and how it's impossible to find any non-porn ads because they're completely mixed in with all those ads corrupting the children. By creating a separate category they could simply point out that if someone is looking for adult services they can find those ads in their own section, and if they aren't they don't have to view them.

          The bar you're setting is low enough such that any service that has adult content submitted by users would be risking charges, because they 'know' that people can use them for illegal actions and allow them anyway.

          Alternatively, and using your own argument that 'knowledge and moderation = liability', would you accept as legal a site like backpage that allowed adult and non-adult ads, but performed zero filtering of anything posted, such that they would be completely intermingled and the site owners had no knowledge whatsoever of what was posted? Because that's one of the possible outcomes if this law passes, moderators keeping a completely hands-off approach to avoid even a hint of 'knowledge' that could be used against them.

          So random people (like yourself) can't overwhelm the system with fake reports that are in any way binding.

          Even taking this as fact, and assuming that unlike pretty much every similar law in history this one wouldn't be expanded over time(because surely no politician would ever be so crass as to suggest an expansion to a bill described as being anti-sex trafficking in order to boast about 'doing something', right?), it's not like there is a shortage of state AG's who have been desperate to hammer various sites to score cheap PR, and who would take this law and run with it going after anyone and everyone they thought would be an easy target, causing significant chilling of speech.

          All laws can be abused, but some laws are much easier to abuse than others, and 'Take this down of face penalties' laws like the DMCA have demonstrated that they are trivial to game. A law that introduces criminal penalties would be far worse.

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

          • icon
            MyNameHere (profile), 5 Nov 2017 @ 1:23am

            Re: Re: Re: Re: I don't think it's as hard as you trying to make it seem

            "using your own argument that 'knowledge and moderation = liability',"

            Not my argument at all.

            My argument is that by creating a special category for the "dirty stuff" (sex ads) they have shown knowledge. Moderation doesn't enter into the discussion at that point. They have up front knowledge, otherwise they wouldn't create a category to hide the stuff away from their general users.

            Moderation in and by itself shouldn't be an issue. When a site moderates offensive or illegal material and removed it from their site, they are clearly showing that they are not aiding criminal activity but trying to shut it down. That means they don't violate the first part of the law in doing so.

            Oh, and as much as Mike would hate this, the recent hearings into the whole Russian thing has left the tech industry major players in a pretty bad spot:

            "Feinstein made it clear that, going forward, Big Tech should expect to operate under a microscope. “We are not going to go away, gentlemen,” she said. “And this is a very big deal. I went home last night with profound disappointment. I asked specific questions, I got vague answers. And that just won’t do. You have a huge problem on your hands. And the U.S. is going to be the first of the countries to bring it to your attention, and other countries are going to follow, I’m sure, because you bear this responsibility. You created these platforms, and they are being misused. And you have to be the ones to do something about it—or we will.”"

            https://www.vanityfair.com/news/2017/11/feinstein-lights-into-big-tech-over-russian-meddlin g

            If even Vanity Fair is running this stuff, you can be pretty sure it's getting wide coverage. SESTA is just another little part of the government getting tired of the irresponsible attitudes from Silicon Valley types. Get use to it, it's going to get worse, not better.

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

            • identicon
              Anonymous Coward, 5 Nov 2017 @ 3:40am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: I don't think it's as hard as you trying to make it seem

              My argument is that…

              You should correct your previous misstatement.

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

            • icon
              That One Guy (profile), 5 Nov 2017 @ 5:55am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: I don't think it's as hard as you trying to make it seem

              My argument is that by creating a special category for the "dirty stuff" (sex ads) they have shown knowledge. Moderation doesn't enter into the discussion at that point. They have up front knowledge, otherwise they wouldn't create a category to hide the stuff away from their general users.

              And again you seem to operated under the idea that there is no such thing as a legal adult ad. The fact that they have an adult section does not mean they have knowledge of everything in it such that they 'know' that there is illegal content and thus should be held liable for it.

              So you were able to read the first sentence in that paragraph, now what about the rest of it? The zero filtering, no moderation and therefore no 'knowledge' alternative? Would that be an acceptable response, or would you be slamming them for something along the lines of 'willful blindness'? Because 'no user submitted content allowed', 'heavily restricted user submitted content' and/or 'no moderation that can be taken as 'knowledge' engaged in' are the three most probable outcomes if this stupidity becomes law.

              When a site moderates offensive or illegal material and removed it from their site, they are clearly showing that they are not aiding criminal activity but trying to shut it down. That means they don't violate the first part of the law in doing so.

              Under a rosy, 'no one would ever use this to score easy PR' view of the law perhaps, but it would be trivial to point to the fact that despite their best efforts illegal stuff still makes it through(see: Every gorram politician whining about how sites like YT/Twitter should do 'more' to stop 'extremist' content), so clearly they aren't doing enough and are in fact still 'knowingly facilitating' by not keeping it all off.

              After all, as their moderation shows they know their sites/services are being used to host the material, so by not shutting it down clearly they are facilitating it.

              "Feinstein made it clear that...

              Yeah, you'll have to excuse me if I don't buy her statements as anything more than grandstanding so she can claim she's 'doing something', in the proud tradition of politicians everywhere, especially given she'd tossed out a similar idea not too long ago about holding sites liable for material support of terrorists.

              SESTA is just another little part of the government getting tired of the irresponsible attitudes from Silicon Valley types.

              Bull, it's a cheap, counterproductive and dangerous PR stunt, a way for those involved to crow about how they're 'doing something', safe in the knowledge that when their impossible demands aren't met they can go right back to slamming companies for not really trying and how it's up to the saints masquerading as politicians to hold those evil, irresponsible companies to task.

              It's them whining about how 'bad' people use open platforms so clearly those platforms have an obligation to 'do something' about those 'bad' people, completely ignoring just how insanely stupid and unrealistic their demands are, and moreover the damage it would cause.

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

              • icon
                Toom1275 (profile), 5 Nov 2017 @ 7:07am

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: I don't think it's as hard as you trying to make it seem

                Two more points:

                1. for your three scenarios of "No user content, heavily restricted user content, or unmoderated user content" The middle one requires a level of effort often unattainable by sites, so that one is less likely to take place than the others.

                2. Weren't the politicians trying to entrap Backpage already manufacturing and submitting their own "illegal" ads for the sole purpose of saying that Backpage was liable? A scenario that actually takes place is absolutely not hypothetical or hyperbole, and there's no intelligent reason to think this practice will cease if SESTA passes.

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

              • icon
                MyNameHere (profile), 5 Nov 2017 @ 3:11pm

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: I don't think it's as hard as you trying to make it seem

                "The zero filtering, no moderation and therefore no 'knowledge' alternative?"

                Unlikely to work, as a site operator generally knows what is and what is not popular, most popular sections, etc. Willful and intentional blindness to what is on your site likely won't work out either.

                But I think you are still caught in a loop here. Knowledge and moderation does not lead to convictions. Knowledge without moderation would be an issue, moderation itself isn't a problem.

                As much as Mike would like to tell you otherwise, the reality is the courts will take a law like this, and look at your "good intentions". They would look at things like keyword filtering, offering community flagging so posts can be reviewed, specifically NOT setting up sections for sex workers, and things like that. When you take pro-active steps to make your site generally free of the problem material, and when you work quickly to remove any that does appear, it would seem that you would no longer reach the level of "providing support", rather you would appear to be stopping it as quickly as possible.

                It's the difference between a pyromaniac and a fireman. Both play with fire, only one puts them out.

                As for your YT/Twitter argument, just remember that they have pretty much exclusively dealt with civil suits. I can file suit on you tomorrow for being annoying or making my cat sick or something. The suit may have no merit, but I can file it. Lawsuits and criminal law are not the same at all.

                That this proposed law specifically limits civil actions to victims would appear to fit the definition of keeping things narrow and on point. It means that I cannot file suit against Backpage because they took a sex worker ad from a pimp. I am not a victim, therefore I would have no standing. I could try, but I would fail to have standing.

                " you'll have to excuse me if I don't buy her statements as anything more than grandstanding so she can claim she's 'doing something',"

                Yet, if it was Wyden, it would be earth shaking news. The point is the even Washington is starting to catch on the SV has had a free ride, and that ride is coming to an end.

                "It's them whining about how 'bad' people use open platforms so clearly those platforms have an obligation to 'do something' about those 'bad' people,"

                The thing is, that is the nature of the law. Let's for a moment disable section 230 and see what would happen. Would backpage be running the ads they do? I don't think so. That is the point here. Washington has figured out that things aren't right, and that with all of this power, SV types aren't taking the responsibility that comes with the power. Just like a child (sadly) if they can't hand;e the power. then the government (mom and dad) will have to step in to assure that nobody gets hurt while they play with their powerful toys.

                They have had 20 years to achieve a balance, instead they created jerk tech and "arrogance as a service". The piper has shown up and expects to get paid.

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

                • identicon
                  Anonymous Coward, 5 Nov 2017 @ 4:38pm

                  Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: I don't think it's as hard as you trying to make it seem

                  That imaginary Wydenmonster under your bed really has your panties in a twist, doesn't he?

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

                • icon
                  That One Guy (profile), 5 Nov 2017 @ 7:36pm

                  Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: I don't think it's as hard as you trying to make it seem

                  Unlikely to work, as a site operator generally knows what is and what is not popular, most popular sections, etc. Willful and intentional blindness to what is on your site likely won't work out either.

                  As as before, knowing a category is popular does not mean you know what's in that category. It's not 'willful blindness' to not know everything that's on your site, that's a fact of reality for any platform that's open to the public and that isn't going to pre-vet everything.

                  As for 'that wouldn't work', that's just tough, because it's one of the possible responses to avoid liability. 'We don't know what's on the site so the idea that we 'knowingly' allowed/facilitated anything is absurd.'

                  They would look at things like keyword filtering, offering community flagging so posts can be reviewed, specifically NOT setting up sections for sex workers, and things like that.

                  The first two are almost certainly already filters for all that that saved the company from lawsuits and whiny politicians, and as for the third...

                  Right, let's just nail this down once and for all shall we? Do you think there is any such thing as a legal adult ad, such that sites should be allowed to host them? Along those lines, do you believe that because some people can use a particular category/platform/item for illegal acts that the entire category should be considered no different?

                  As for your YT/Twitter argument, just remember that they have pretty much exclusively dealt with civil suits. I can file suit on you tomorrow for being annoying or making my cat sick or something. The suit may have no merit, but I can file it. Lawsuits and criminal law are not the same at all.

                  And your point is...? They've only faced (failed) civil lawsuits before now because they had 230 protecting them from liability for what their users posted. Punch a hole in that protection and it's not 'will' they be sued for user submitted content but 'how soon and how often'.

                  That this proposed law specifically limits civil actions to victims would appear to fit the definition of keeping things narrow and on point.

                  Awesome, then you should have no problem pointing to the specific language in the bill that does that. Given it's only five pages long, should take you a few minutes at most.

                  While you're at it perhaps you can point to the part of the proposed bill that defines what 'knowingly facilitating' means. Is knowing that a service has been used in the past for illegal activity and not having stopped it from every happening again enough, or do they need to know about a specific violation and let it pass the bar that needs to be met? Again, small bill, so should only take you a few minutes.

                  It means that I cannot file suit against Backpage because they took a sex worker ad from a pimp.

                  What you can do however is send a message to your state's AG, who can file a suit against backpage for doing that. But hey, it's not like state AG's have ever tried to score political 'I'm doing something!' PR points by going after companies to hold them responsible for user submitted content, such that if you open up sites for liability they'll jump right in with the lawsuits.

                  Yet, if it was Wyden, it would be earth shaking news. The point is the even Washington is starting to catch on the SV has had a free ride, and that ride is coming to an end.

                  You really should look into your Wyden fixation, it's seems to be practically obsession-level some times.

                  However, humoring you for a moment, the difference is that Wyden has a pretty good history of highlighting actual problems, even if he does so indirectly at times. Feinstein on the other hand has a history of throwing out dangerous ideas by claiming that, wait for it, tech companies aren't doing enough and are holding themselves 'above the law'.

                  Any of that argument sound familiar to you?

                  Washington has figured out that things aren't right, and that with all of this power, SV types aren't taking the responsibility that comes with the power.

                  Probably because the 'taking responsibility' the politicians are blathering on about is both ludicrously impractical and would cause significant damage to free speech and the platforms hosting it. They want companies to stop 'bad stuff' and yet completely ignore that 'bad stuff' isn't labeled as such for easy spotting, and the scope and difference between 'standard' media means even trying to comply with their childish demands would cause significant collateral damage, if it doesn't destroy a platform/service outright.

                  They have had 20 years to achieve a balance

                  Oh by all means, define 'balance'.

                  The piper has shown up and expects to get paid.

                  The 'piper' in this case hasn't used the tools they already had, and are now demanding that someone else do the impossible while they take all the credit.

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

                  • icon
                    MyNameHere (profile), 5 Nov 2017 @ 9:29pm

                    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: I don't think it's as hard as you trying to make it seem

                    "As as before, knowing a category is popular does not mean you know what's in that category. It's not 'willful blindness' to not know everything that's on your site, that's a fact of reality for any platform that's open to the public and that isn't going to pre-vet everything."

                    Makes no sense. Your most popular category, the only one you charge for, and you purposely avoid knowing what's in it? Sorry, you are arguing something that isn't logical.

                    "As for 'that wouldn't work', that's just tough, because it's one of the possible responses to avoid liability. 'We don't know what's on the site so the idea that we 'knowingly' allowed/facilitated anything is absurd.'"

                    It's not really possible. Nobody can be 100% ignorant of their site. They certainly cannot be ignorant of a special section with the type of ads they remove from every other part of their site. It would assume they never see page stats, never have to review a single post, etc. Not really possible.

                    " Do you think there is any such thing as a legal adult ad, such that sites should be allowed to host them? "

                    I think you are a little wrapped up in strange view. There are very few things that you can advertise that you don't want to show to minors. Most of them are phsyical products (sex toys, vaping equipment, etc) that can easily be put in their own categories and restriced. Adult Services is pretty much limited to escorts and full body massage places. Once you understand the difference, it's easy to see why few if any of the truly adult ads would ever be for legal services.

                    "While you're at it perhaps you can point to the part of the proposed bill that defines what 'knowingly facilitating' means. Is knowing that a service has been used in the past for illegal activity and not having stopped it from every happening again enough, or do they need to know about a specific violation and let it pass the bar that needs to be met? Again, small bill, so should only take you a few minutes"

                    That would be a court's decision. I think however that (a) knowing that prostitution is illegal in your area, and (b) the ads in question are offering "escort services" and (c) you created a category specifically for them, curate them, and perhaps even charge for their listings would likely be enough.

                    On the other hand, a random posting in the comments on Techdirt wouldn't rise to the level required. Techdirt would remove it quickly enough, Techdirt doesn't have an "escort listings by city" on their site, and so on.

                    "What you can do however is send a message to your state's AG, who can file a suit against backpage for doing that. "

                    The state AGs can and have done that already. The law changes nothing, anyone can file a lawsuit, and it can be thrown out if it's not valid. I think this law actually raises the bar, because in specifying victims, they will likely need to show a crime. Raising the bar is good, no?

                    "The 'piper' in this case hasn't used the tools they already had, and are now demanding that someone else do the impossible while they take all the credit."

                    The piper has used the tools. Section 230 blocks almost all of them. It holds the sites have no responsibility, and equally exempts the sites from knowing their customers and providing that information in response to lawsuits or legal action. Except for the incredibly tedious whack a mole of contacting a single listing, arranging a meeting, hoping like hell the girl actually says the wrong words, and then moving the case to court isn't going to fix the problems that are out there.

                    Removing some of the money from the sex abuse eco system will almost certainly make a difference.

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

                    • identicon
                      Anonymous Coward, 6 Nov 2017 @ 7:15pm

                      Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: I don't think it's as hard as you trying to make it seem

                      The law changes nothing... just like SOPA, which was supposedly argued to not change a thing, then Chris Dodd pissed and moaned when it didn't pass, and then all the Techdirt critics gloated that they didn't need SOPA to do the things they wanted?

                      Yeah, see - when you demand something that in your own words changes nothing, ignoring evidence to the contrary - nobody's going to believe you.

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

                    • icon
                      That One Guy (profile), 6 Nov 2017 @ 8:30pm

                      Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: I don't think it's as hard as you trying to make it seem

                      Makes no sense. Your most popular category, the only one you charge for, and you purposely avoid knowing what's in it? Sorry, you are arguing something that isn't logical.

                      No, there's nothing 'illogical' about a site not preemptively scanning every single entry in a given category, popular or not, because it might have something bad in it, because they have no obligation to do so. If someone posted an ad for an illegal product/service in another category would you be chastising and blaming them for 'purposely avoiding knowing what's in it'?

                      It's not really possible. Nobody can be 100% ignorant of their site. They certainly cannot be ignorant of a special section with the type of ads they remove from every other part of their site. It would assume they never see page stats, never have to review a single post, etc. Not really possible.

                      Just because you know a category is popular doesn't mean you know the details of what's in it. Just as a random example a site could host stories and know that a particular category of story tends to be popular without knowing the particular plot or characters of the stories in question.

                      General moderation does not mean knowledge of specifics. It is possible, and in fact all but inevitable given the scale involved to know that 'content relating to X goes here, because that's where we told people to put it' and not know the exact specifics of a particular piece of content unless someone specifically points it out to you.

                      I think you are a little wrapped up in strange view. There are very few things that you can advertise that you don't want to show to minors. Most of them are phsyical products (sex toys, vaping equipment, etc) that can easily be put in their own categories and restriced. Adult Services is pretty much limited to escorts and full body massage places. Once you understand the difference, it's easy to see why few if any of the truly adult ads would ever be for legal services.

                      Is that a 'yes there are such things as legal adult ads and sites should be allowed to host them', or 'no there is no such things as legal adult ads and sites should not be allowed to host them'? I'm not going to stop asking, so you might as well answer it already.

                      That would be a court's decision. I think however that (a) knowing that prostitution is illegal in your area, and (b) the ads in question are offering "escort services" and (c) you created a category specifically for them, curate them, and perhaps even charge for their listings would likely be enough.

                      Because of course there simply is no such thing as a legal escort service and anyone offering one is clearly offering an illegal service, something which any site should have known.

                      'No really, I'm sure when they were taken to court the judge would see it their way' is not a persuasive argument in favor of the law, especially as I note you did not provide any of the citations I was asking for such that it would be entirely up to whichever judge the case landed before to decide what qualified as 'knowing facilitation'.

                      The thing is all of five pages, surely you can take a few extra minutes out of your busy day to find the clear, unambiguous definition that will be so incredibly important and keep 'good' sites out of the cross-hairs.

                      The state AGs can and have done that already.

                      Only to be slapped down by 230 protections, which is what they were whining about in this article, and which they would dearly like to go away so they can score some easy PR points for 'doing something'.

                      The law changes nothing, anyone can file a lawsuit, and it can be thrown out if it's not valid. I think this law actually raises the bar, because in specifying victims, they will likely need to show a crime. Raising the bar is good, no?

                      If it changes nothing then you are arguing for a useless law, a complete waste of time on the part of those making laws, and one that should be tossed immediately so they can get on to laws that do actually change something.

                      Would you like to try a different argument?

                      The piper has used the tools. Section 230 blocks almost all of them. It holds the sites have no responsibility, and equally exempts the sites from knowing their customers and providing that information in response to lawsuits or legal action. Except for the incredibly tedious whack a mole of contacting a single listing, arranging a meeting, hoping like hell the girl actually says the wrong words, and then moving the case to court isn't going to fix the problems that are out there.

                      Yes, how very terrible that they can't hold the platform or the ones who run it responsible, and have to go after the individual who misused it instead.

                      How utterly tragic that a system that allows anonymous posting(something you yourself make plentiful use of) means that sometimes a site doesn't have the personal details of a poster available to just hand over.

                      How completely disastrous that police have to do some gorram work and can't just shut down massive amounts of legal free speech, an act which would force them to chase down the next place the illegal ads show up(hoping all the while that the next site gives a damn about their requests for assistance), using, and here's the real kicker, a method that has a very real possibility of harming the very people the defenders of the bill claim they are trying to help.

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

            • identicon
              Anonymous Coward, 5 Nov 2017 @ 7:06am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: I don't think it's as hard as you trying to make it seem

              My argument is that by creating a special category for the "dirty stuff" (sex ads) they have shown knowledge.

              There is legal adult stuff, and they are trying to be responsible citizens by marking it as such, so that those who are easily offended can avoid that section. That is not the same as aiding illegal activities.

              SESTA is just another little part of the government getting tired of the irresponsible attitudes from Silicon Valley types.

              SESTA is worse that the usual politicians banning the means of committing a crime, like the UK handgun ban, which has done nothing to stop criminals using them, but has gone a step further and is making it a criminal offense to fail to stop a criminals using their service.

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

              • icon
                MyNameHere (profile), 6 Nov 2017 @ 12:22am

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: I don't think it's as hard as you trying to make it seem

                "There is legal adult stuff"

                Yes there is, but it's mostly physical product stuff. You can easily handle "legal adult" without any problems. But when you throw it in a pile with a bunch of pimps and sex traffickers, you pretty much kill the whole thing.

                "SESTA is worse that the usual politicians banning the means of committing a crime"

                A couple of things here. I think that if something is a crime anywhere EXCEPT the internet, then the politicians are pretty much spot on in trying to make the laws line up. The internet shouldn't be a special pass to ignore the law.

                I also think that crime is generally made up of motive and opportunity. Various players in the sex trade have different motives, but the opportunity happens only when the motivated customer meets the motivated seller. It's the narrow part of the road. It's pretty logical to work on keeping the motivated parties apart and unable to complete a transaction. It is also not stupid to raise the legal risk in making such a transaction happen so people on the fence perhaps don't get enough motivation to pay for sex. Adding risk, making it more dangerous, and making it harder to find are all good steps towards eliminating the casual customers from that trade.

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

                • identicon
                  Anonymous Coward, 6 Nov 2017 @ 1:10am

                  Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: I don't think it's as hard as you trying to make it seem

                  Is a company that owns phone booths, or public bathrooms held liable for any cards posted in them by pimps? If not, why is an Internet service any different, as they provide the space, and do not control what is posted there.

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

                  • icon
                    MyNameHere (profile), 6 Nov 2017 @ 3:52am

                    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: I don't think it's as hard as you trying to make it seem

                    Well, such a company would not encourage such behavior, and more than likely spend plenty of time making sure that cards and stickers don't stay around their phone booths. Probably every visit to collect coins includes cleaning things up.

                    Now, if they put an extra board next to the phone and said "post your adult service ads here", you know it would be a different game, right?

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

                    • identicon
                      Anonymous Coward, 6 Nov 2017 @ 5:52am

                      Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: I don't think it's as hard as you trying to make it seem

                      >Now, if they put an extra board next to the phone and said "post your adult service ads here", you know it would be a different game, right?

                      Only if there were no legal adult services that could be offered, otherwise they are simply marking out adult content so that people can choose whether or not to look at what is there.

                      There is a difference between saying put content that is legal but might offend some, and which should be kept away from children here, and saying post illegal adverts here. Doing the first is not an invite to do the second.

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

                    • icon
                      Toom1275 (profile), 8 Nov 2017 @ 5:58am

                      Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: I don't think it's as hard as you trying to make it seem

                      Sounds no different from the false narrative that sites allowing third-party content "encourage" copyright infringement and must spend plenty of time looking for violating works on their sites. Knowing that there's maybe piracy is treated as though it's "actual knowledge" for that, so why would anyone think it won't be the same for SESTA?

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

  • identicon
    New Mexico Mark, 4 Nov 2017 @ 8:57am

    Next step toward the "Great Firewall of America"

    The Internet routes around damage. This will fuel the growth of services hosted in countries with greater freedoms, and the protocols / methods to use those services. (And the USG is bemoaning how things "went dark" because of increased encryption after Snowden?)
    That in turn will mean more restrictive laws in a steadily escalating war of "we cannot allow bad things to happen" vs. personal freedom and responsibility. I give us 10-15 years before the US "catches up" to China.

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

  • identicon
    TRX, 4 Nov 2017 @ 9:56am

    >I honestly am flabbergasted at this move by the Internet Association.

    Any organization, if it's around long enough, will begin to work against the principles it was created to support.

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

  • icon
    Uriel-238 (profile), 4 Nov 2017 @ 1:25pm

    In the US, Convictions > Justice

    It's not going to be long after this bill is passed that judges decide the burden of proof is on the website to show that they were unknowing.

    In all cases, the host is going to be regarded as knowing until proven otherwise.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 6 Nov 2017 @ 11:08am

    ...and not a single mention in this entire article of the fact that the "Internet Association" is actually Google, Facebook, etc.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 6 Nov 2017 @ 1:12pm

    Eric Goldman's view

    Today, at his Technology and Marketing Law blog, law professor Eric Goldman posted his view on the most recent version of the SESTA bill, writing under the headline, “Manager’s Amendment for SESTA Slightly Improves a Still-Terrible Bill” —

    On Friday, a Manager’s Amendment to SESTA was announced. The good news is that its revised language slightly improved the bill. The bad news is that SESTA remains bad policy. The worse news . . .

    Some of you may recall that last September, Professor Goldman testified before the Senate Commerce Committee on SESTA. It's worthwhile paying attention to his view on this topic.

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


Add Your Comment

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here
Get Techdirt’s Daily Email
Use markdown for basic formatting. HTML is no longer supported.
  Save me a cookie
Follow Techdirt
Special Affiliate Offer

Advertisement
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Essential Reading
Techdirt Deals
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Techdirt Insider Chat
Advertisement
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Recent Stories
Advertisement
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads

Close

Email This

This feature is only available to registered users. Register or sign in to use it.