How can you go wrong trying to stop sex trafficking? FOSTA, that’s how. The Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act (FOSTA) tried to fix something that wasn’t broke: under pre-existing law, we already had common sense regulations in place to prosecute online services that facilitated sex trafficking. But perhaps in an effort to appear tough on sex crimes, the US Congress passed additional regulations that are difficult to enforce and possibly even unconstitutional. The result may be more harm that good, robbing sex workers of resources that tools that served to protect them and squelching legitimate online content.

I delve into this topic with the EFF’s Elliot Harmon, covering the history of legislation in this area and analyzing the nuances of this tricky area of law. We also explore the political and financial reasons the FOSTA/SESTA bills appeared to have such broad support and how these laws closely parallel copyright enforcement bills.

Elliot Harmon is the associate director of activism at EFF. He advocates for free speech and the right to innovate online, with particular emphasis on patents, copyright, open access, and Section 230. Before coming to EFF, Elliot served as director of communications at Creative Commons, an organization that helps creators share their works with the public via open copyright licenses. Before that, he worked as a writer and curator for TechSoup, a technology resource for the nonprofit community. He has degrees from the University of South Dakota and the California College of the Arts.

For Further Insight:
Rep Chris Cox on how Section 230 came into being:
Why Hollywood might see FOSTA as a step toward a
filtered Internet:
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Carey Parker began programming computers in middle school when personal computers were just starting to become popular. For years, these twin interests percolated until he attended Purdue University and he learned you could get paid to do this stuff – it was called Electrical Engineering! After obtaining a bachelor’s and a master’s degree in EE, Carey wrote software for multiple companies, large and small. In recent years, particularly after the Edward Snowden revelations in 2013, he became deeply concerned about computer security and privacy. In 2014, he combined his passion for computers, cybersecurity and fantasy novels with the long-time desire to write the book: Firewalls Don’t Stop Dragons.