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Press Release

FreedomWorks Applauds House Judiciary’s Legislation to Stop Sex Trafficking

Following House Judiciary’s approval of the Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act (FOSTA), FreedomWorks Chief Economist and Vice President of Research Wayne T. Brough release the following statement:

“While finding ways to shut down and arrest wrongdoers is important, earlier efforts included broad language with the potential of imposing significant costs on legitimate Internet services. Most importantly, the vague “knowing conduct” adopted in SESTA made anyone with knowledge of illicit activity liable for that activity. But just what constituted knowing conduct is unclear, creating uncertainty that could clamp down on Internet freedom and dampen investments in the Internet’s future.

“These issues came to light in Senate hearings on SESTA, and while the Committee has worked to improve the language, FOSTA 2.0, championed by Chairman Goodlatte, goes even further. Most importantly, FOSTA 2.0 adds clarity and protects Section 230 by focusing on criminal intent rather than some vague notion of knowledge. While not perfect, FOSTA 2.0 is a far better and FreedomWorks thanks the committee for their efforts to protect Internet freedom.”

The legislation, the aptly named, “Allow States and Victims to Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act” (FOSTA) is a great improvement over a similar bill was introduced in the Senate—the Stop Enabling Sex Traffickers Act (SESTA)—earlier this year, Anne Wagner introduced an early version of FOSTA on the House side, but the bill that went to the floor was a substitute—FOSTA 2.0—introduced at the behest of House Judiciary Chairman Goodlatte and Anne Wagner, and it is good news for the tech world.

The problem with the earlier bills was that they were reworking one of the fundamental laws that made the Internet as we know it possible—Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, which protected Internet companies from liability for the actions of third parties using their services.