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Thread: Is CDA 230 Rand's New Moment to Shine?

  1. #1

    Is CDA 230 Rand's New Moment to Shine?

    This bill provides a carve out to the safe harbor protections that allow for what little free speech we still have on the web. Smaller sites and forums could be devastated if this bill is passed, which is why the Big Social monopolies are quietly supporting it. Just passed the House yesterday in overwhelming vote. Moves to the Senate next. If Rand could defeat this thing, he would become a legend. With shutdown of Infowars imminent and Twitter purge of leading Conservative voices, the timing has never been better for a libertarian-conservative alliance to quash a free speech infringing bill:

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  3. #2
    I didn't dig up a link to the actual bills yet, but here is a letter in opposition from a variety of groups including freedomworks.
    undersigned organizations, have been actively engaged in the debate over the last year regarding legislation intended to combat sex trafficking online. We share that goal: the sexual exploitation of minors, and the enslavement of unwilling adults, is a moral abomination. Any new legislation should empower prosecutors and compensate victims without inadvertently discouraging responsible websites from helping to combat sex trafficking.
    The House Judiciary Committee has done just that. But we write to express our concern regarding yesterday’s announcement that House Leadership has scheduled a floor vote next week on a version of the House bill that would incorporate a radically different Senate bill.1 The Senate legislation would harm, not help, sex trafficking victims, whereas the House bill would not raise the same significant concerns. Thus, the two bills cannot simply be merged. We urge leadership in both chambers to commit to holding further hearings, particularly in the Judiciary Committees in each chamber, before attempting to transport unworkable concepts from the Senate bill into the House bill.
    In December, the House Judiciary Committee marked up a bill introduced by Rep. Ann Wagner (R-MO), the Allow States and Victims to Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act of 2017 (FOSTA). On Wednesday, the House Judiciary Committee reported that bill to the House.2 FOSTA creates a new federal crime: the intent to promote or facilitate prostitution using media of interstate commerce (e.g., the Internet). By contrast, the Senate’s Stop Enabling Sex Traffickers Act (SESTA) criminalizes “knowingly assisting, supporting, or facilitating [sex trafficking].” But as the FOSTA committee report notes:
    general knowledge that sex trafficking occurs on a website will not suffice as the knowledge element must be proven as to a specific victim … A new statute that instead targets promotion and facilitation of prostitution is far more useful to prosecutors.3

    convictions, neither would it supply plaintiffs with court-ordered restitution or the
    evidence that would be most effective in winning civil damage awards for victims. FOSTA would not
    actually require a criminal conviction prior to civil suit; a civil plaintiff could establish a violation of
    the criminal law under the lower civil burden of proof. Prosecutors will always play a critical role in
    enabling civil lawsuits, as they have unique advantages in the difficult investigative task of
    distinguishing good websites from bad ones. In that sense, FOSTA, by enabling prosecutions, will
    help civil plaintiffs, while SESTA, by failing to enable prosecutions, will not.
    FOSTA offers a third benefit: responsible sites trying to stop sex trafficking, and to cooperate with
    law enforcement, will not be discouraged from doing so. But SESTA, by tying criminal liability to
    mere “knowledge” of sex trafficking, creates a perverse incentive for websites to stop monitoring
    user activity on their sites, lest they later be accused of having acquired “knowledge.” This has been
    called the “Moderator’s Dilemma;” avoiding it was the primary purpose of the Section 230
    immunity: “to remove disincentives for the development and utilization of blocking and filtering
    technologies.” 47 U.S.C. § 230(a)(4).
    SESTA’s sponsors seem implicitly to recognize the Moderator’s Dilemma, because the bill explicitly
    preserves the immunity in Section 230(c)(2)(A). Unfortunately, they misunderstand how that
    immunity works: it protects blocking or filtering but not the monitoring of user content necessary
    for filtering, and it is in the course of monitoring user content that websites risk gaining
    “knowledge” of illegal activity. Section 230 has no explicit reference to monitoring, but its current
    immunity protects the full range of what websites do — thus implicitly protecting websites from
    liability for knowledge gained in monitoring content as well as from claims that they should have
    done even more monitoring. Ending the heart of that immunity (§ 230(c)(1)) necessarily means
    ending these protections for monitoring. That, in turn, will cause sites to do less monitoring,
    content moderation, and cooperation with law enforcement.
    For these reasons, among others,4 we do not believe SESTA’s language is workable. We would be
    happy to help lawmakers parse the differences between the two bills and explore ways to address
    concerns about FOSTA. But any attempt to simply merge the two bills on the House floor would be
    an abdication of lawmakers’ responsibility to the victims of sex trafficking. Lawmakers owe it to
    them to take the time to carefully consider what they are doing. That cannot be done on the House
    floor, or in conference, or without the expertise of both Judiciary Committees.
    We urge House Leadership not to attempt to merge the bill produced by the careful work of the
    House Judiciary Committee with a Senate bill that simply bypassed that chamber’s Judiciary
    Committee. Major changes to federal criminal law should never be made without careful scrutiny by
    the Judiciary Committee in each chamber.

    Failing that, should the House leadership attempt to perform conjunctive surgery on the House
    floor of two radically different bills, we urge the Senate Judiciary Committee to assert itself when
    the chimera bill returns to the Senate — and to hold its own hearings on this most difficult of topics.
    A federal district court is set to rule any day now on whether to allow civil litigation against
    Backpage to proceed under existing law5 (because Section 230’s immunity does not apply if website
    operators can be shown to be “responsible, in whole or in part, for the creation or development of
    information”6). This critical decision could make clear that Section 230 is not, in fact, the bar to civil
    litigation that many assume today. Such a decision could call into question whether Section 230
    really needs to be amended at all; certainly, at a minimum, it would suggest that FOSTA’s approach
    to civil litigation (preserving Section 230 qualified immunity against civil suits) will allow
    meritorious civil suits to proceed while properly shielding sites as Congress originally intended.
    Congress would be well served to consider this decision, whatever its outcome, before taking any
    floor vote.
    House Leadership is not merely dismissing crucial questions about the effectiveness of SESTA; it is
    planning to violate its own most basic procedural safeguards. The House Energy and Commerce
    Committee (E&C) and the House Judiciary Committee (HJC) have not exchanged the traditional
    jurisdictional waiver letters — meaning that E&C has not properly notified HJC of the waiver that
    would be necessary for the bill to proceed to the House floor. We can only surmise that this normal
    step was bypassed in order to advance FOSTA, which HJC only just reported out of Committee, to
    the floor to meet an arbitrary political timetable.
    Such deviations from standard procedure of the House are troubling in their own right; they also
    indicate that vital sex trafficking legislation is simply not getting the time and attention it deserves.
    There is simply no excuse, or reason, for rushing through a bill that ends up hurting the
    victims of sex trafficking.

  4. #3
    This a slippery slope thing .. we don't want the government punishing us for what we say online, and we don't want to normalize this behavior. We need to politically punish those who seek to take away or restrict our speech and our right to bear arms.

    Allow States and Victims to Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act of 2017(Sec. 2) This bill expresses the sense of Congress that section 230 of the Communications Act of 1934 was not intended to provide legal protection to websites that unlawfully promote and facilitate prostitution and contribute to sex trafficking. Section 230 limits the legal liability of interactive computer service providers or users for content they publish that was created by others.
    (Sec. 3) The bill amends the federal criminal code to add a new section that imposes penalties—a fine, a prison term of up to 10 years, or both—on a person who uses or operates (or attempts to use or operate) a facility or means of interstate or foreign commerce to promote or facilitate the prostitution of another person.
    Additionally, it establishes enhanced penalties—a fine, a prison term of up to 25 years, or both—for a person who uses or operates a facility of interstate or foreign commerce to promote or facilitate the prostitution of another person in one of the following aggravating circumstances: (1) promoting or facilitating the prostitution of five or more persons, or (2) acting with reckless disregard that such conduct contributes to sex trafficking.
    A court must order mandatory restitution, in addition to other criminal or civil penalties.
    A person injured by an aggravated offense may recover damages and attorneys' fees in a federal civil action.
    A defendant may assert, as an affirmative defense, that the promotion or facilitation of prostitution is legal in the jurisdiction where it was targeted.
    (Sec. 4) The bill amends the Communications Act of 1934 to prohibit construing section 230 to limit state criminal charges for conduct: (1) that promotes or facilitates prostitution in violation of this bill, or (2) that constitutes child sex trafficking.
    (Sec. 5) Additionally, it prohibits construing this bill to limit federal or state civil actions or criminal prosecutions that are not preempted by section 230 of the Communications Act of 1934.

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