In April, Congress passed FOSTA, a groundbreaking law that interrupts this cycle of abuse by holding internet companies accountable when they knowingly facilitate sex trafficking. An abbreviation for Allow States and Victims to Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act of 2017, FOSTA shrinks the online commercial sex market and opens up legal avenues for prosecutors and victims to take steps against social networks, websites and online advertisers that have failed to act sufficiently against users who post exploitative content.
However, not everyone is happy with FOSTA. Some have raised concerns that it will force online platforms to police their users’ speech. There’s even a lawsuit pending against the legislation. The plaintiffs, represented by the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), a nonprofit that is funded in part by Google, call FOSTA an “unconstitutional Internet censorship law.”
FOSTA is a very narrowly tailored law that specifically holds anyone who knowingly facilitates and supports sex trafficking online liable. It doesn’t cast a wide net over all internet activity — that kind of approach would be impossible. Industry giants like Oracle, IBM, Disney, 20th Century Fox and Hewlett Packard backed the bill because they realize technology can be used for good and bad and we shouldn’t leave it undefended against criminals. 1