A new bill passed by both the House of Representatives and the Senate that seeks to prevent online sex trafficking. All good stuff you might think…But all is not as it seems.
FOSTA or H.R. 1865, the Allow States and Victims to Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act makes web hosting platforms and website owners now liable to both private lawsuits and criminal prosecution by making them responsible for the content that users post on their site.
This will not impact your everyday company sites, but specifically targets interactive platforms where all people can post comments, links, discussions etc… You know, like facebook, Twitter etc…
Previously, site owners were protected from this by Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act of 1996. This meant that owners were not responsible if users went rogue and started posting obscenities or illegal content. It meant, in practice, that the internet was a place (that although had an element of danger) was actually a place of free expression for billions of people. Not anymore.
Now, website owners will be far more wary of who they allow to post content, they will be compelled to monitor, screen, and censor content for fear of being sued or even criminally charged.
Consider this. You own a blog that has a comments section…You post something about your holiday with the family and a discussion in the comments section starts…A random poster posts a series of links…All innocuous except one slipped in at the end that leads to a site that is in a legal gray area. You are now open to criminal charges. What of that link is to a site that has a hidden link to a child prostitution site but that is on brief inspection just a regular site…You can now be criminally charged with advertising and encouraging pedophilia!
We all know how this law will be used. It will make previously free internet spaces shut down conservative voices under the guise of protecting women and children…And if you argue against it…Would the Deep State stoop low enough to set you up? What about private citizens with a grudge? This is pernicious and unconstitutional.