In November, the U.S. Senate Commerce Committee unanimously approved a bill known as the Stop Enabling Sex Traffickers Act of 2017 (SESTA). SESTA has broad bi-partisan support of its worthwhile goal of allowing civil and criminal actions against a website for “knowingly assisting, supporting or facilitating” sex-trafficking through the site.
SESTA is a proposed amendment to Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act that currently provides a safe harbor shielding websites from liability for user generated content. Should SESTA become law, all websites, large and small, that allow generated content will face the challenge and increased cost in engaging in screening of such content. Additionally, the passage of SESTA could lead to efforts to exempt other types of content from Section 230 immunity, such as terrorist-related content or other content that specific group of people or organizations find objectionable.
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