Silicon Valley Wants to Sabotage Child Anti-Trafficking Bill

By Lisa Correnti | August 3, 2017
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Google and other tech companies are trying to sabotage a bill to protect children from sex traffickers. The bill closes a loophole in the Communications Decency Act (CDA) that allows web platforms to knowingly facilitate child sex trafficking.

Courts cited Section 230 of the CDA when they dismissed charges and lawsuits against Backpage.com, an online classified advertisement company valued at $500 million dollars that facilitates the sale of women and children for sex.

Section 230 of the CDA offered protection from all liability for third party content, “even if it were participating in, profiting from, or was a co-conspirator in a federal crime.”  A U.S. Court of Appeals 1st District decision in 2016 made it clear congressional action was necessary to correct this interpretation giving immunity to web platforms even for criminal conduct.

Congress is currently considering legislation to do this through Congresswoman Ann Wagner’s bill – H.R. 1865, the Allow States and Victims to Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act of 2017 and its Senate counterpart, S. 1693 by Senators Rob Portman and Claire McCaskill, the Stop Enabling Sex Traffickers Act of 2017.

Google legal counsel drafted a letter to members of congress opposing the fast-tracking of the bills given reports that they could be attached to must pass NDAA legislation. Google and other tech companies feel the Child Anti-Trafficking bills “has the potential to seriously jeopardize the internet ecosystem.”

Below find a statement by C-Fam president Austin Ruse.

August 3, 2017

To Honorable Members of Congress:

It is immoral and incomprehensible that Google and other tech companies want to sabotage House and Senate bills to protect children from sex traffickers.

Legislation offered by Representative Ann Wagner and Senators Rob Portman and Claire McCaskill are extraordinarily narrow. Tort liability is a conservative solution to an issue that regulation and government programs cannot solve.

Backpage.com, Google and other web platforms must be liable for crimes they recklessly enable or know about, given the complexity of policing web platforms from the outside. The proposed bills do not even use negligence, which is arguably the necessary standard.

We will never defeat sex traffickers of children so long as Backpage.com, Google and other web platforms can avoid any and all responsibility for conduct they alone can effectively police. For years they have done little to nothing as thousands of children fall prey to traffickers that use their web platforms. This needs to stop right now. There is no time to waste.

Please support H.R. 1865 and the attachment of S.1693 to the NDAA for speedy approval. Delaying passage puts more vulnerable girls at risk to the predators that seek to exploit them for financial gain.

Sincerely,

Austin Ruse
President