Sex Trafficking Bill Soothes a Tech Worry With Focus on Intent


A new version of a House bill that aims to curb online sex trafficking could ease concerns of big internet companies including Google and Facebookand create a new tool to pursue bad online actors.

New language from House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte would make it a crime to operate a facility such as a hotel or an internet platform with the intent to promote prostitution of another person. If adopted, this measure would expand an existing anti-prostitution statute but largely leave in place protections for internet platforms.

The revised bill, which was originally introduced by Republican Ann Wagner from Missouri, targets sites like Backpage.com over its alleged role in providing an advertising platform for teen prostitution. The site has used longstanding federal protections that shield web platforms from liability for content posted on their sites to defend itself against multiple lawsuits over its alleged role in the sex trafficking of children.

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