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April 11, 2018

Controversial SESTA/FOSTA Bill Signed Into Law

WASHINGTON, D.C.—President Donald Trump signed into law today the controversial SESTA/FOSTA bill, which proponents claim will crack down on sex trafficking in the U.S., while opponents claim it will make sex workers less safe and give way to online censorship. The bill is a mixture of the Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act (FOSTA) and the Stop Enabling Sex Traffickers Act (SESTA). It is commonly referred to as FOSTA, and passed in Congress last month. While it could be early next year before the new law is enacted, some online platforms have already taken action, shutting down online forums or sites where they feel sex trafficking is even remotely possible: Craigslist closed its personals section last month, Microsoft announced it was banning nudity and Reddit shuttered its Dark Net discussion group. The bill received backlash primarily from sex workers, who said the move doesn’t help reduce sex trafficking at all, and instead could put their lives in danger. Backpage.com was a site commonly referred to during the bills’ debates, since it serves as a forum where users posted advertisements offering sexual services. Earlier this week, the Federal Government seized the domain, which led opponents of the bill to question if the new law was ever really needed in the first place. Opponents argue FOSSTA/SESTA empowered abusive clients to exploit sex worker, which could lead to more pimping, which in turn could lead to more harm and potential for actual trafficking. “SESTA is putting people on the streets, where we face more violence and harassment and arrest and brutality by the police. SESTA is killing us,” Lola, a community organizer with Survivors Against SESTA, told Motherboard.

 
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