A FOSTA Of One's Own: UK Parliament Members Looking To Punish Websites, Push Traffickers Underground

from the FOSTA-Home-Secretary-is-not-a-position-that-needs-to-exist dept

Our government decided to make the internet worse, endanger the lives of sex workers, and make it harder for law enforcement to hunt down sex traffickers. And it was all done in the name of fighting sex trafficking. SESTA/FOSTA's passage immediately contributed to all three problems upon passage, throwing sex workers under the bus along with Section 230 immunity. The upside for the government was obvious: it could now target websites and site owners, rather than sex traffickers, for grandstanding prosecutions.

Violet Blue reports for Engadget that the UK government -- no stranger to terrible laws targeting the internet -- is thinking about copy-pasting FOSTA for its own use. It would also like to do all the things listed above, only without the minimal restraint of the First Amendment.

A self-appointed group of MPs (the "All-Party Parliamentary Group on Prostitution and the Global Sex Trade") fronted by Ms. Champion made a call to ban "prostitution websites" during a Wednesday House of Commons debate. Conflating sex work with trafficking just like their American counterparts, they claim websites where workers advertise and screen clients "directly and knowingly" profit from sex trafficking.

Watching British politicians advance something as broken and harmful as FOSTA-SESTA is like watching an animal try to chew its leg off to escape a trap -- while we're all standing outside the glass enclosure shouting "that's the wrong leg!" Champion is apparently OK about the fact that they're parroting Trump and FOSTA-SESTA; she's even joked that it's a special kind of irony. Indeed.

It's not that sex trafficking doesn't exist or shouldn't be addressed. It's that this "solution" does nothing to solve the problem. It only makes it worse. It drives traffickers underground, making law enforcement's job that much more difficult. And it impairs the ability of sex workers -- those who have chosen this line of work freely -- to earn a living. It increases the dangers they face, especially when paired with increased criminalization of those purchasing sex.

The adoption of FOSTA as a blueprint for sex trafficking legislation also ignores the ugly truth about its support stateside. It's not about sex trafficking. It's about punishing those who are easiest to reach: websites and customers. That sex trafficking will hum along under the radar uninterrupted doesn't phase supporters of this law. It's enough that the government will publicly hang a few website owners for content posted by third parties.

It will be worse in the UK where a challenge along civil liberties lines is more likely to fail. UK speech laws are a mess and it's unlikely opponents of the proposed law will find judicial relief from UK FOSTA knockoff. The lives the law endangers are of zero concern to a majority of politicians and the platform the law is built on -- ending sex trafficking -- is something very few feel comfortable taking a stand against.


Reader Comments

Subscribe: RSS

View by: Time | Thread


  • icon
    PaulT (profile), 12 Jul 2018 @ 3:35am

    "ban "prostitution websites""

    Cool, we just ban sites that exist solely to push any illegal activity, then. Wait, surely that's covered by existing legislation? If not, there's surely something greater that needs to be done rather than just push for those covering a specific crime?

    I'm sure the people involved mean well and are trying to address a real problem, but you don't do that by either introducing new law that's covered by existing legislation or by trying to hold people responsible for the crimes of others. As, sadly, those involved in the US sex industry have apparently already discovered.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 12 Jul 2018 @ 3:37am

      Re:

      or by trying to hold people responsible for the crimes of others.

      Innocent bystanders are much easier to find than those trying to evade the law.

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

    • icon
      That One Guy (profile), 13 Jul 2018 @ 4:03am

      Re:

      I'm sure the people involved mean well and are trying to address a real problem, but you don't do that by either introducing new law that's covered by existing legislation or by trying to hold people responsible for the crimes of others.

      In which case you're giving them far more benefit of the doubt than I am, especially after the fallout from FOSTA has made clear that such actions increase the risk faced by those that are held up as the justifications for these laws.

      Just like it was with FOSTA I suspect that this is nothing more than a cheap PR stunt, with perhaps a dash of moral busybodies trying to cram their sense of 'right' down everyone else's throats, and to hell with any actual victims.

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

      • icon
        PaulT (profile), 13 Jul 2018 @ 4:32am

        Re: Re:

        Yeah, I'm not convinced exactly, but I'd have to do more research before really making up my mind. If it was just a group of Tories, I'd assume it's just bunch of moralising bullshit to fool the less informed masses or to get a nice contract for a friend somewhere. The majority of this kind of proposal, especially from that shower, are exactly that.

        But, if this is a truly cross-party group as claimed, I'm more willing to lean toward it being people making the same mistake toward a genuinely held goal than anything malicious. This is the kind of thing that seems obvious to fail in its stated goal to the more informed. But, if you're not well informed about how the internet actually operates, and haven't been following the actual negative effects of the US legislation (which I assume nobody significant at government level is actually admitting yet), then it probably is something that seems like a good idea, until someone knowledgeable tells you why it's horrifically a bad one.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 12 Jul 2018 @ 5:21am

    What is truly amazing is the council house 'entrepreneurs' can't mow lawns like here. Three lawns in butfuc_ America buys a load of drugs.

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

  • icon
    Ninja (profile), 12 Jul 2018 @ 5:50am

    Jesus fucking christ, when are we gonna stop acting like moralist morons and accept that prostitution is a goddamn natural thing (as much as pot) and proceed accordingly by making them fully legal and giving protection for the users and the workers?

    At the very least there's a visible pressure piling against this idiotic "morals" thing.

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

      • icon
        Ninja (profile), 12 Jul 2018 @ 10:01am

        Re: Re:

        For drugs possibly, but since I lumped sex workers I think legalization is the better route.

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

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 12 Jul 2018 @ 10:10am

        Re: Re:

        The premise is incorrect: "To legalise something is to write it into law as permitted." Not true, anything not specifically prohibited by law is permitted. "In the process of doing this, the thing has to be defined and limits and regulations are put onto it." Also false; all that has to be done is repeal the existing laws that define and prohibit the activity. "Innocent workers are being prosecuted under brothel-keeping laws". If we want to stop moralizing, these laws need to be repealed too. Decriminalization or legalisation of the "main" activity doesn't matter if we're not going to touch the laws about "related" activities.

        We need protection against involuntary work, and workers need to be protected from workplace hazards. That's true regardless of the line of work we're discussing.

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

    • identicon
      I.T. Guy, 12 Jul 2018 @ 7:28am

      Re:

      Too many God warriors in politics.

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

    • icon
      PaulT (profile), 12 Jul 2018 @ 7:55am

      Re:

      A long time, since there's always enough people out there for whom it's not enough to control their own lives, they have to try and control everybody else's at the same time.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 12 Jul 2018 @ 6:16am

    according to her website, she doesn't consider herself as a 'career politician'. what a shame she doesn't shut the fuck up then and stop trying to be exactly the opposite! it's the same as the 'link tax' that has just been stopped in the EU, AGAIN! the more something fails, the more it screws up something else, the more these moron politicians have to try to grandstand by get the friggin thing implemented! it's only after their efforts are actually condemned because of the fallout that they suddenly themselves fall off the planet, never to be heard from again!

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

  • icon
    Crazy Hong Kong Monkey (profile), 12 Jul 2018 @ 9:29am

    ban "prostitution websites" during a Wednesday House of Commons

    So.... Thursday to Tuesday is perfectly OK

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 12 Jul 2018 @ 12:45pm

      Re: ban "prostitution websites" during a Wednesday House of Commons

      The House needs one day a week when its members can get some work done without being constantly distracted by these websites.

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

  • icon
    ECA (profile), 12 Jul 2018 @ 11:39am

    Any reasons??

    Protect the children?? What the Hell are the parents doing letting kids wonder the net?? with out Protections or ADULT MONITORING..

    Prostitution..Anyone have a reason to be one?? I DO..a few anyway.

    Human trafficking?? Show me all the times this has been taken to court, NOT as willing prostitution..

    The numbers put up by the PRO' side have been looked at and analyzed..by allot of people and groups. They dont add up. and THERE WAS a few solutions to 99% of it.. CREATE a place for runaways. to get them OFF the street, HIDE them, Protect them, GIVE them HELP..
    GIVE THEM THE RIGHTS they are supposed to have..IF they are having family problems, Drug problems..ANY PROBLEMS..let them goto someone to TALK TO.. NOT be arrested as a runaway and held until an ADULT WHO ABUSED THEM gets them back..

    In out time..
    Who do you goto for assistance?
    church? They AINT OPEN 24/7, anymore. And in the last 30 years, its NOT a good place.(as seen on TV)
    goto the police, (as seen on TV) where do they send them and what do they DO FOR THEM???

    Anyone been in the court system or a State system, LATELY?? Prosecutors get paid..DEFENDERS DONT(not often)

    Hmm, I wonder..goto a School nurse/counselor?? Can you see the problem here?? THEY ARE NOT RESPONSIBLE(not treated so, in courts) and end up sending you home..

    We have gotten to a point that THEY WANT TO HIDE IT..
    NO ONE is responsible..(because they can be Sued)
    How do we hide incompetence, Neglect..and corruption. the system is overwhelmed and taken advantage of..(when you see 20 kids for 1 adoption person)..

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

  • icon
    Bergman (profile), 12 Jul 2018 @ 1:00pm

    Wasn't there a recent pedophilia scandal in the UK?

    It occurs to me that given how many high ranking and wealthy individuals were snapped up as part of that ring, they'd have a pretty strong incentive to make it harder for the government to catch them.

    FOSTA pushing the traffickers underground would be seen as a feature, not a bug, to people like that!

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

  • icon
    Jeffrey Nonken (profile), 12 Jul 2018 @ 2:46pm

    Those damned homophones are ruining our way of life!

    "Phase"? Surely you mean "faze".

    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
Techdirt Gear
Shop Now: Techdirt Logo Gear
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.