Bill is intended is to curb online sex trafficking by holding website operators more accountable for their users’ activities.
The Senate on Wednesday overwhelmingly approved a controversial online sex trafficking bill, despite objections by some in the tech industry.
The legislation, known as Allow States and Victims to Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act (FOSTA), was approved by a 97-2 vote. It’s intended to curb online sex trafficking by holding website operators more accountable for their users’ activities.
“Today’s vote is a victory for trafficking survivors and a victory for our efforts to help stop the selling of women and children online,” Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio), one of the bill’s authors, said in a statement. “No one thought that we could get this done, but with the commitment of an overwhelming group of bipartisan colleagues and a broad-based coalition of support, we were able to pass legislation that will ensure justice for trafficking victims and help us combat this evil crime.”
The bill would give sex-trafficking victims more power to sue websites that knowingly support sex trafficking. Supporters say the legislation will help curb the growing epidemic of online sex trafficking that often involves children, while opponents argue it could expose tech companies to costly lawsuits and infringe on free speech.
The legislation amends Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act from 1996, which many online platforms saw as a vital protection from liability for content posted by their users. The legislation makes it a crime to operate an internet platform with the intent of promoting prostitution.