back to article At last, sex trafficking brought to an end with US House vote on new internet law (Yeah, right)

The US House of Representatives has overwhelmingly passed a bill aimed at tackling online sex traffickers, but which critics warn will have little effect on curbing the vile trade and could instead undermine free speech on the internet. The (Allow States and Victims to) Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act (FOSTA) – which included …

  1. Kaltern

    So reading between the lines, this just looks like another underhanded way of sneaking in a way to control what's said online without too many pesky legal comebacks?

    May will be making notes...

  2. Blake St. Claire

    The House passed it?


    Call me when the Senate and House have both passed the reconciled bills and Twitler has signed it.

    Not holding my breath.

    1. Orv Silver badge

      Re: The House passed it?

      He'll sign it if it hits his desk.

      First off he doesn't actually care about the contents of legislation, only about "wins."

      Secondly, anything that hurts online services hurts blue states far more than red states, and we've already seen that he likes using his position to punish states that didn't vote for him.

      Thirdly, he is at heart an authoritarian, and while I'm not one of those people who thinks this law is wearing jackboots, it's definitely bookmarking them on Zappos.

      1. Blake St. Claire

        Re: The House passed it?

        You're missing the point. Next the Senate has to pass the exact same bill. Usually it takes several go-arounds before both houses pass the exact same text. Only then can it go to the Prezident for his signature. It might be a while.

        As I said, I'm not holding my breath.

        I'm pretty sure this was covered in fifth grade civics and again in eleventh grade. Were you not paying attention? (And yes, I'm presuming you're an American.)

        Also he might like punishing Blue States, but this helps the little guys (or gals) at the expense of scumbags, so I'm not so sure he'll just sign it. Maybe his head will explode from thinking about it. We can hope.

        1. Mark 85

          Re: The House passed it?

          While this is a political "hot button" vote, I wonder if Congress will exempt itself from this law?

        2. Stu Mac

          Re: The House passed it?

          I'm sure he isn't in favour of suppressing prostitution between consenting non trafficked adults either....

      2. Stu Mac

        Re: The House passed it?


        The guy who believes in deconstructing the Federal Government and the return of State rights and governance.

        Uh Huh

        1. Mike Moyle

          Re: The House passed it?

          "The guy who believes in deconstructing the Federal Government and the return of State rights and governance."

          ...except for when he and his AG, Jeff "Keebler" Sessions, DON'T believe in states' rights and local devolution, vis. marijuana legalization and "sanctuary cities".

        2. Eddy Ito

          Re: The House passed it?

          Of course he's an authoritarian. Every politician in D.C. is an authoritarian in the same way that all squares and trapezoids are quadrilaterals.

          You might convince me that there a few of those quadrilaterals with one really short side so from a great distance if you squint just right it looks like a triangle. It's the same with politicians.

  3. tfewster

    > the next Facebook or Yelp won't even bother to launch...

    Every cloud has a silver lining.

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      It means the current facebook is the last and only permanent one.

      Anybody starting a competitor has to have enough lawyers on day 1 to screen all their content.

      Somebody with an anonymous email address of zuck666 might even be tempted to post some content to get them shut down.

      The reason we have lots of rules and laws restricting business is that they are written at the behest of currently successful businesses.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Who cares? The existing monopolies are already entrenched, and new ones won't solve anything. Decentralized protocols* are the next big thing, and they're immune to these laws because there's no company to prosecute, only end users.

        Platforms like Signal are somewhat immune, as there's no way for them to knowingly facilitate anything done via end-to-end encryption. No self-policing beyond banning users reported for crime or abuse.

        * Sounds nice in theory, but I predict it'll be an anarchic nightmare that ultimately sends us back to the 19th century.

  4. Bronek Kozicki


    I think that word "knowingly" is crucial in the context, and FB contribution to the law is a good one.

    1. JLV

      Re: "knowingly"

      FB being useful, what's next, Fat Kim going humanitarian?

      hopefully, for all the apparent opportunities for stupidity here, a competent judge will inherit a test case and set a reasonable precedent that clarifies liability.

      it's one thing to not hold online sites liable for bad content posted by users. it's another if a site's business model is predicated on users breaking laws.

      prosecuting craigslist for instance would be different from backpage's alleged behavior.

  5. Anonymous Coward


    Well that closes one huge loophole that allowed criminal enterprises to operate as "tech companies". Good riddance. Even if you haven't actually been prostituted, it's a pain in the ass when some asshole (think: SJW) uses these sites to harrass you and nobody can stop them because they're untouchable criminals. I speak from experience.

    I know this is an unpopular viewpoint here, but I for one am celebrating tonight. It's a done deal, no partisan bickering on this one.

    Annihilate that downvote button, degenerates!

  6. Griffo

    So what about craigslist and backpage?

    Maybe i'm misunderstanding the scope, but it appears that this law bans all online prostitution advertisements? Does this mean that Backpage and Craigslist etc can no longer have adult services sections? Doesn't BP make 90% of it's revenues from it's "adult services" sections?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: So what about craigslist and backpage?

      I had the impression that Backpage only had revenues from its (not it's) "adult services" sections.

      1. Schultz

        The possessive is hitting again

        Or the possessive is is hitting again? Anyways, long live 's, it's entertainment for the ages' ...

    2. Stu Mac

      Re: So what about craigslist and backpage?

      And all Escort services. Adultwork et all? As it's all perfectly legal in some civilised countries how is that going to work.

      (Germany, Switzerland, Netherlands...)

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: So what about craigslist and backpage?

        This law specifically allows facilitation of legal prostitution (i.e. with consenting adults in most of Nevada). Underage and forced prostitution are the real targets.

        It's nice to see that Congress isn't trying to overrule states on that, unlike marijuana legalization.

  7. Rob F

    How did they manage to miss this opportunity?

    Stop Inspiring Sex Traffickers Act (SISTA) - Fight Internet Sex Trafficking Act (FISTA). Nod to Ali-G.

    On a more serious note, places like Australia and New Zealand take a much more pragmatic approach of legalising brothels and escort agencies and aggressively patrol it, rather than forcing it underground. Anyone trying to circumnavigate the rules gets the full force of the law. I believe women (and men) that choose to be involved in the business are vetted to ensure there isn't a coercion underbelly.

    I am beyond being surprised that any of the recent legislation coming out of the USA is anything less than a capitalist, oppressor, oligarchical wet dream. Nothing is allowed to hit the Senate or Congress without it being meddled and having cheap shot caveats injected into the legislation. Adding riders is just another unbelievable perversion.

  8. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge

    Oh Goody

    websites can be prosecuted if they engage in the "promotion or facilitation of prostitution."

    That's the end of Craigslist and a whole slew of sites. The likes of Tinder and even Match might find themselves skating close to the edge as well.

    Laws of unintended consequences and all that.

    1. Ken Hagan Gold badge

      Re: Oh Goody

      Except that in this case it looks like it is the intended consequence.

      The unintended consequence would be the end of the practice of renting out space on your site's pages to host ads chosen by a third party.

    2. Adam 52 Silver badge

      Re: Oh Goody

      There is a difference between unintended consequences and a hidden agenda.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Thumb Up

        Re: Oh Goody

        A pleasant side effect?

        Those apps are pure cancer.

  9. DerekCurrie

    #MyStupidGovernment At Work

    Is this:

    A) Tech Ignorance


    B) A misguided attempt at stopping actual sex trafficking


    C) More of the same totalitarian BS from PoliTard extremists?

    I'd rather kill it first then find out in the autopsy.

  10. x 7

    We need a law in the UK to block prostitution sites

    Do that and you'd end 90% of the sex trafficking in the UK

    Most of the trade goes through three sites: Adultwork, Vivastreet, UKAdultzone

    with some of the more dangerous stuff through the likes of Backpage, Friday-Ad.

    Ban those, and sites like them and you would free a lot of women from sexual exploitation

    1. GrumpyKiwi

      By 'free from exploitation' you mean force them to work on the streets again, prevent them from any kind of information sharing on which regular Johns are dangerous and that kind of thing. Sounds great to me. I love the idea of rules with no unintended consequences and I can see that you've got this one sussed perfectly.

      1. x 7

        "By 'free from exploitation' you mean force them to work on the streets again, prevent them from any kind of information sharing on which regular Johns are dangerous and that kind of thing. Sounds great to me. I love the idea of rules with no unintended consequences and I can see that you've got this one sussed perfectly."

        I said nothing about blocking support sites such as SAAFE or Uglymugs. Just the advertising sites. The rate of trafficking has gone up as the use of those sites has increased. Kill the advertising sites and you kill the demand - which will result in fewer girls trafficked.

        1. GrumpyKiwi

          Ah I see. Some 'kindly' government agency will determine which sites are 'good' and which are 'bad'.

          Well that is OK then. Because we know we can trust in the governments benevolence. They've certainly never misused such powers.

          It's just a bunch of pathetic theatre.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I wonder if this argument would also allow the victims to sue auto manufacturers, for producing the van that their rapist threw them into during the abduction?

    Clearly, it follows the same logic as suing Backpage--in both cases an illegal act was made easier by the use of a legal product. Therefore if it's OK to sue Backpage for their contributions to human trafficking, then it's OK to sue General Motors, because the Chevy Astro has been used in countless number of rapes and/or abductions.

    Perhaps gun manufacturers could finally be held responsible for the fact that they sell products, that even when when it is used correctly, are designed to kill someone? Clearly, there are some legitimate, non-human trafficking uses for Backpage--yet, there are no non-lethal uses for a gun.

    So, what'll it be America--freedom that occasionally includes the occasional victim of human trafficking, or a safe world without human trafficking or guns?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Stop strawmanning, coward. Backpage's owners were actively seeking prostitution ads - consensual or not - and covering it up - and got caught red-handed. It's as if GM advertised the Astro as a "van of peace" and Colt advertised the AR-15 as the School Shooter's Gun of the Year, AND that's all anyone did with them.

      And for the record I love guns, cars, and tasteful prostitution.

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