Posts Tagged ‘FOSTA’

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Facebook logo The recent Fosta law in the US forces internet companies to censor anything to do with legal, adult and consensual sex work. It holds them liable for abetting sex traffickers even when they can’t possibly distinguish the trafficking from the legal sex work. The only solution is therefore to ban the use of their platforms for any personal hook ups. So indeed adult sex work websites have been duly cleansed from the US internet.But now a woman is claiming that Facebook facilitated trafficking when of course its nigh on impossible for Facebook to detect such use of their networking systems. But of course that’s no excuse under the FOSTA.

According to a new lawsuit by an unnamed woman in Houston, Texas, Facebook’s morally bankrupt corporate culture for permitting a sex trafficker to force her into prostitution after beating and raping her. She claims Facebook should be held responsible when a user on the social media platform sexually exploits another Facebook user. The lawsuit says that Facebook should have warned the woman, who was 15 years old at the time she was victimized, that its platform could be used by sex traffickers to recruit and groom victims, including children.

The lawsuit also names Backpage.com, which according to a Reuters report , hosted pictures of the woman taken by the man who victimized her after he uploaded them to the site.

The classified advertising site Backpage has already been shut down by federal prosecutors in April of this year.

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indianapolis metro police logoSupporters of the US internet censorship law FOSTA were supposedly attempting to target pimps and traffickers, but of course their target was the wider sex work industry. Hence they weren’t really interested in the warning that the law would make it harder to target pimps and sex traffickers as their activity would be driven off radar.Anyway it seems that the police at least have started to realise that the warning is coming true, but I don’t suppose this will bother the politicians much.

Over in Indianapolis, the police have just arrested their first pimp in 2018, and it involved an undercover cop being approached by the pimp. The reporter asks why there have been so few such arrests, and the police point the finger right at the shutdown of Backpage:

The cases, according to Sgt. John Daggy, an undercover officer with IMPD’s vice unit, have just dried up. The reason for that is pretty simple: the feds closed police’s best source of leads, the online personals site Backpage, earlier this year. Daggy explained:

We’ve been a little bit blinded lately because they shut Backpage down. I get the reasoning behind it, and the ethics behind it, however, it has blinded us. We used to look at Backpage as a trap for human traffickers and pimps.

With Backpage, we would subpoena the ads and it would tell a lot of the story. Also, with the ads we would catch our victim at a hotel room, which would give us a crime scene. There’s a ton of evidence at a crime scene. Now, since [Backpage] has gone down, we’re getting late reports of them and we don’t have much to go by.

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MicrosoftThe US has just passed an internet censorship bill, FOSTA, that holds internet companies responsible if users use their services to facilitate sex trafficking. It sounds a laudable aim on paper, but in reality how can say Microsoft actually prevent users from using communication or storage services to support trafficking?Well the answer is there is no real way to distinguish say adverts for legal sex workers from those for illegal sex workers. So the only answer for internet companies is to censor and ban ALL communications that could possibly be related to sex.

So there have been several responses from internet companies along these lines. Small ad company Craigslist has just taken down ALL personal ads just in case sex traffickers may be lurking there. A Craigslist spokesperson explained:

Any tool or service can be misused. We can’t take such risk without jeopardizing all our other services.

Last week, several online porn performers who use Google Drive to store and distribute their adult content files reported that the service had suddenly and without warning blocked or deleted their files, posing a threat to their income streams.

And now it seems that Microsoft is following suit for users of its internet services in the USA. Microsoft has now banned offensive language, as well as nudity and porn, from any of its services — which include Microsoft Office, XBox and even Skype.

The broad new ban was quietly inserted into Microsoft’s new Terms of Service agreement, which was posted on March 1 and which takes effect on May 1 . The new rules also give Microsoft the legal ability to review private user content and block or delete anything, including email, that contains offensive content or language.  The rules do not define exactly what would constitute offensive language.

In theory, the new ban could let Microsoft monitor, for example, private Skype chats, shutting down calls in which either participant is nude or engaged in sexual conduct.

So wait a sec: I can’t use Skype to have an adult video call with my girlfriend? I can’t use OneDrive to back up a document that says ‘fuck’ in it? asked civil liberties advocate Jonathan Corbett, in a blog post this week. If I call someone a mean name in Xbox Live, not only will they cancel my account, but also confiscate any funds I’ve deposited in my account?

denofgeek.com answers some of these queries:

Seemingly aware of the tentative nature of this policy, Microsoft included a couple of disclaimers. First off, the company notes that it cannot monitor the entire Services and will make no attempt to do so. That suggests that Microsoft is not implementing live monitoring. However, it can access stored and shared content when looking into alleged violations. This indicates that part of this policy will work off of a user report system.

Microsoft also states that it can remove or refuse to publish content for any reason and reserves the right to block delivery of a communication across services attached to this content policy. Additionally, the punishments for breaking this code of conduct now include the forfeiture of content licenses as well as Microsoft account balances associated with the account. That means that the company could theoretically remove games from your console or seize money in your Microsoft account.

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us congressIt was a dark day for the Internet.

The U.S. Senate just voted 97-2 to pass the Allow States and Victims to Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act (FOSTA, H.R. 1865), a bill that silences online speech by forcing Internet platforms to censor their users. As lobbyists and members of Congress applaud themselves for enacting a law tackling the problem of trafficking, let’s be clear: Congress just made trafficking victims less safe, not more.

The version of FOSTA that just passed the Senate combined an earlier version of FOSTA (what we call FOSTA 2.0) with the Stop Enabling Sex Traffickers Act (SESTA, S. 1693). The history of SESTA/FOSTA — a bad bill that turned into a worse bill and then was rushed through votes in both houses of Congress2 — is a story about Congress’ failure to see that its good intentions can result in bad law. It’s a story of Congress’ failure to listen to the constituents who’d be most affected by the laws it passed. It’s also the story of some players in the tech sector choosing to settle for compromises and half-wins that will put ordinary people in danger. Silencing Internet Users Doesn’t Make Us Safer

SESTA/FOSTA undermines Section 230, the most important law protecting free speech online. Section 230 protects online platforms from liability for some types of speech by their users. Without Section 230, the Internet would look very different. It’s likely that many of today’s online platforms would never have formed or received the investment they needed to grow and scale204the risk of litigation would have simply been too high. Similarly, in absence of Section 230 protections, noncommercial platforms like Wikipedia and the Internet Archive likely wouldn’t have been founded given the high level of legal risk involved with hosting third-party content.

Electronic Frontier Foundation The bill is worded so broadly that it could even be used against platform owners that don’t know that their sites are being used for trafficking.

Importantly, Section 230 does not shield platforms from liability under federal criminal law. Section 230 also doesn’t shield platforms across-the-board from liability under civil law: courts have allowed civil claims against online platforms when a platform directly contributed to unlawful speech. Section 230 strikes a careful balance between enabling the pursuit of justice and promoting free speech and innovation online: platforms can be held responsible for their own actions, and can still host user-generated content without fear of broad legal liability.

SESTA/FOSTA upends that balance, opening platforms to new criminal and civil liability at the state and federal levels for their users’ sex trafficking activities. The platform liability created by new Section 230 carve outs applies retroactively — meaning the increased liability applies to trafficking that took place before the law passed. The Department of Justice has raised concerns about this violating the Constitution’s Ex Post Facto Clause, at least for the criminal provisions.

The bill also expands existing federal criminal law to target online platforms where sex trafficking content appears. The bill is worded so broadly that it could even be used against platform owners that don’t know that their sites are being used for trafficking.

Finally, SESTA/FOSTA expands federal prostitution law to cover those who use the Internet to promote or facilitate prostitution.  The Internet will become a less inclusive place, something that hurts all of us.

And if you had glossed over a little at the legal details, perhaps a few examples of the immediate censorship impact of the new law

Immediate Chilling Effect on Adult Content

See  article from xbiz.com

xbiz 2016 logoSESTA’s passage by the U.S. Senate has had an immediate chilling effect on those working in the adult industry.

Today, stories of a fallout are being heard, with adult performers finding their content being flagged and blocked, an escort site that has suddenly becoming not available, Craigslist shutting down its personals sections and Reddit closing down some of its communities, among other tales.

SESTA, which doesn’t differentiate between sex trafficking and consensual sex work, targets scores of adult sites that consensual sex workers use to advertise their work.

And now, before SESTA reaches President Trump’s desk for his guaranteed signature, those sites are scrambling to prevent themselves from being charged under sex trafficking laws.

It’s not surprising that we’re seeing an immediate chilling effect on protected speech, industry attorney Lawrence Walters told XBIZ. This was predicted as the likely impact of the bill, as online intermediaries over-censor content in the attempt to mitigate their own risks. The damage to the First Amendment appears palpable.

  • Today, longtime city-by-city escort service website, CityVibe.com, completely disappeared, only to be replaced with a message, Sorry, this website is not available.

  • Tonight, mainstream classified site Craigslist, which serves more than 20 billion page views per month, said that it has dropped personals listings in the U.S.

  • Motherboard reported today that at least six porn performers have complained that files have been blocked without warning from Google’s cloud storage service. It seems like all of our videos in Google Drive are getting flagged by some sort of automated system, adult star Lilly Stone told Motherboard. We’re not even really getting notified of it, the only way we really found out was one of our customers told us he couldn’t view or download the video we sent him.

  • Another adult star, Avey Moon was trying to send the winner of her Chaturbate contest his prize — a video titled POV Blowjob — through her Google Drive account, but it wouldn’t send.

  • Reddit made an announcement late yesterday explaining that the site has changed its content policy, forbidding transactions for certain goods and services that include physical sexual contact. A number of subreddits regularly used to help sex workers have been completedly banned. Those include r/Escorts , r/MaleEscorts and r/SugarDaddy .