The Sex-Ad Law FOSTA Was a Mistake. Some Lawmakers Want to Fix It.

A 2018 law that targets sex advertising is proving to be a disaster for both sex workers and victims, as well as for online free speech. There are many evidence. The law has also been It is unnecessaryFor fighting crime, the Government Accountability Office also admitted this last year. Nonetheless, some lawmakers and activists keep blithely insisting—without a shred of evidence—that the Allow States and Victims to Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act (FOSTA) did good. While some pretend FOSTA isn’t there, others continue to use the same excuse of protecting children to support the same solution (amending Section 230), which they claim will fix the problem.

However, a handful of members are resisting the trend. At the very least, they are open to considering that FOSTA might not have been passed as intended.

To this end, they’re backing legislation that would further study the effects of FOSTA and of the Justice Department’s shutdown of websites—like Backpage and Rentboy—popular for sex worker advertising.

They were introduced for the first time in 2019. However, they quickly failed to gain traction. Now, their sponsors—Ro Khanna (D–Pa.)and Barbara Lee (D–Calif.) in the House; Elizabeth Warren (D–Mass.) and Ron Wyden (D–Ore.) in the Senate—are trying again.

The SAFE SEX Workers Study Act of 2022 requires the Department of Health and Human Services to “conduct an assessment of the unintended effects on the health and safety of individuals engaged in transactional sex, in connection the enactment of [FOSTA]interactivity computer services hosting information on sexual exchange. The U.S. Attorney general would be required to report on all human trafficking investigations, and any prosecutions associated with them.

In the findings section of the bill, the lawmakers explain (with a shocking lack of moral panic) how the government’s war on sex work advertising has caused a number of reported harms, and how FOSTA—intended to stop sexual violence and exploitation—may have actually increased it.

FOSTA became effective in 2018 when it was “officially” adopted.Websites are shut down in advance, while others can be cited.The law’s passage is the basis for closing,” the Department of Justice notes. The Department of Justice arrested the founders of after FOSTA had passed but not before it was made law. It is similar to its actions with several years earlier. But These websites, and each individual account can be accessed “while we wait.”Counts have been shutting down. There has not been any A national investigation is conducted to examine the circumstances surrounding immigrating persons.A pact that prevents you from having access to such platforms regarding your health Security of persons in transactionsal, consensual sexual sex work.”

Information from the regional and anecdotal levels Health and safety services providers as well as sex workers Evidence has shown that there are significant health effects. Safety of those who consent to transgressions“Actional sex” is what the legislators call it. They include The following reports are from Increased homelessness among sex workers Reduced abilIt is important to ensure safety, such as screening clients and other precautions. There have been reports of violence towards sex workers.

“Many street-sex workers are now a majority of sex workers.”Base work is a type of work that has always involved higher wages. Rates of violence are higher than for other types of transactional “Sex,” they say. This new level of precarity has led to isolation There is significant anecdotal evidence of vulnerability and vulnerabilityDence members of the sexwork community are Third parties are being called more often Looking to get involved in managerial activities.”

“These consequences weren’t anticipated by many of the people who voted for the bill,” Khanna—one of just 25 House members and two senators who voted against FOSTA—told me last time this legislation was introduced. However, despite their best intentions the end result was “draconian.” The law did more than just target bad actors. It also targeted the safety and livelihood of sex workers.

While getting enough votes to repeal right away was unlikely, he hoped getting more data on FOSTA’s effects would be unobjectionable—and useful for eventual repeal. “Just like in the war against drugs, that we were able to push back—particularly on marijuana convictions—based on many studies and data, the hope here is that once we have this data, it will convince people that FOSTA/SESTA was an overreach and then we will have a consensus to repeal it,” Khanna said in 2019.

Unfortunately, it was too late a few decades ago. This time, will it be different?

TechdirtMike Masnick is skeptical, an editor who frequently writes about FOSTA. Congress is just trying to make sex trafficking look serious and care enough to get attention. Whether or not they actually solve any problems is very much besides the point,” writes Masnick. Masnick says, “Hopefully this cynical view is wrong”, but “I don’t hold my breath.”

So far, the SAFE SEX Workers Study Act—introduced in the House on March 3—has seven co-sponsors aside from Khanna and Lee, all Democrats. The Senate version was introduced March 3rd, and has only two sponsors other than Warren or Wyden. Bernie Sanders (I–Vt.), and Cory Booker (D–N.J.). The FOSTA-esque EARN IT Act currently has 21 cosponsors (although only six are in the House).