Dem & Republican Unite to End Online Sex Trafficking, but Somehow End Up Hurting Legal Sex Workers
In April 2017, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass) introduced legislation tackling the inhumane and deplorable practice of child sex trafficking via the web. The bill, H.R.1865, “Allow States and Victims to Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act of 2017,” explicitly states:
“This bill amends the Communications Act of 1934 to specify that communications decency provisions protecting providers or users of interactive computer services from liability for the private blocking or screening of offensive material shall not be construed to impair the enforcement of, or limit availability of victim restitution or civil remedies under, state or federal criminal or civil laws relating to sexual exploitation of children or sex trafficking. The bill amends the federal criminal code to specify that the violation for benefiting from “participation in a venture” engaged in sex trafficking of children, or by force, fraud, or coercion, includes knowing or reckless conduct by any person or entity and by any means that further or in any way aids or abets the violation. A provider of an interactive computer service that publishes information provided by an information content provider with reckless disregard that the information is in furtherance of a sex trafficking offense shall be subject to a criminal fine or imprisonment for not more than 20 years.”
The bill passed the House, Senate, and President Trump signed the bill into law.
On the surface, the bills’ intent of ending sexual exploitation of children is commendable. The Human Trafficking Hotline reported an estimated 40,200 cases of sex trafficking in 2017 alone. Warren and Rubio should be commended for taking on a gut-wrenching, sensitive, and conscience calling subject.
That said, once again, our government officials had mastered the art of harming when they intended to help. For instance, pro-choice activists warn abortion laws risk leading to back door abortions. And anti-prostitution laws have led to women being arrested and fined, while pimps and clients, mostly men, go unscathed.
In a section of the bill, it says, “A provider of an interactive computer service that publishes information provided by an information content provider with reckless disregard that the information is in furtherance of a sex trafficking offense shall be subject to a criminal fine or imprisonment for not more than 20 years.” That’s too loosely worded. And we’re already see the ramifications of this.
Jenavieve Hatch writes in The Huffington Post; banks are arbitrary freezing personal accounts funded by adult sex performers not involved in sex trafficking. I suspect the “decency provisions,” is the turning point for banks who may fear the accusation of being associated with online sites that could, in turn, be associated with a sex scandal involving the trafficking of children. Thus, the most “logical” method is to lockout anyone associated with a pornographic site/industry in general.
However, the lack of logical thought that pornography between consenting adults vs. sex trafficking infuriates me, and I’m disappointed Sen. Warren didn’t hedge warning through the blurred lines.
Sen. Warren, in leftist circles, is considered a progressive feminist, and leftist feminism purports to support the rights of women’s choices. Thus it is downright ludicrous she didn’t second-guess the ramifications the bill would have for adult performers, in particular women.
In the Huffington Post report, it describes the sex worker, Bianca Baker, whose bank account was randomly frozen. She was unable to access $13 thousand of her hard earned money. Explain to me, how is forbidding someone — for up to 48 hours minimum — a form of protection? Curiously, what measures did she violate? Gross abuse of power, Baker, was never given a specific reason for the freeze, leaving her to assume it was her career choice. Baker ended up hiring a sex-worker lawyer who helped her get access to her funds.
How is an arbitrary decision based on blind prejudice and fear of big government a form of protecting children from sex trafficking, when it’s instead harming innocent people? Baker is an adult dealing with adult responsibilities: paying bills, providing for the family, and just trying to survive in a crazy-unfair world.
Feminists like Warren continue to make this tragic mistake often, overprotecting in law. In attempting to protect women and children, they quickly align with big sweeping laws with little thought to considering the aftereffect outcomes. Feminists also haven’t come to terms that women will make choices they don’t necessarily agree with, including a career in the sex industry, and do so freely and proudly.
It’s not surprising, Sen. Marco, a social conservative, would support sweeping legislation with little regard to the unintentional impact the bill is having on adult sex performers, not involved in exploiting children. Social conservatives don’t care for the porn industry in general. Sen. Warren, however, should know better, but I suspect her bullying version of feminist clouded her mind. Too bad innocent women — not harming children but raising them, likely — will negatively impacted in their personal lives in the meantime.
It’s not that bill is wrong on its merit. It’s too sweeping in the original bill and its amendments and opens too many doors to unintentional punishment. Clean up the law, and make it more concise. It should apply to the inhumane practice of sex trafficking only, not legal adult sex workers too.