One Of Our Favorite Senators Just Voted Against A Bill All Other Senators (Except Rand Paul) Supported. We Wanted To Know Why.
And with the House and the President on board too it’ll almost certainly become law.
SESTA/FOSTA (FOSTA is the House version) is supposed to combat sex trafficking by making internet companies liable for content posted on their sites. So who would vote against that? (Especially in an election year when your opponent will no doubt run ads against you saying you support sex trafficking?)
Oregon Democrat Ron Wyden, that’s who. Wyden, (who incidentally is not running for reelection this year — not until 2022 in fact), says the bill is a disaster in the making:
Wyden co-wrote the statute this new law reverses, known as Section 230, which stated: “No provider or user of an interactive computer service shall be treated as the publisher or speaker of any information provided by another information content provider”. In other words, I can’t be held legally responsible for something you post on my site.
SESTA’s supporters say the changes are very narrowly aimed (the idea originally came up to target one classified ad site: Backpage.com). But it’s also easy to see Wyden’s point, that it represents the most significant rollback in protection for internet platforms and websites maybe ever (as well as legitimate sex workers). NPR has a good explainer of the legal and economic issues involved.
Wyden envisions a legal hell that will block innovation and revenue streams for smaller internet companies and individuals. Here’s his description on the Senate floor of how he sees it playing out (click on the photo to play):
Prior to the vote in the Senate, Wyden offered amendments, including a more straightforward approach: additional funding for the F.B.I. and Justice Department to combat online sex trafficking. Those amendments were defeated or withdrawn.