Mar 22, 2018

Congress passes protection for young sex-trafficking victims

An anti-trafficking billboard in Mounds View, Minnesota. Photo: Education Images / UIG via Getty Images

"Congress has overwhelmingly passed legislation meant to curb online sex trafficking of children. This means a first major change in years to a key legal shield used by Internet companies to avoid liability for what people say and do online," NPR's Alina Selyukh reports. The vote in the Senate was a landslide, 97-2, and President Trump is now expected to sign it.

Why it matters: "[C]hild protection groups hope that at least it will give victims more opportunities to get justice in courts against websites that knowingly facilitate the crime. ... [T]his is the first major cutback to the protections that [tech] companies have had under the law."

What it does, from Reuters: "The legislation ... [makes] it easier for state prosecutors and sex-trafficking victims to sue social media networks, advertisers and others that failed to keep exploitative material off their platforms."

  • "Law enforcement has lobbied for years for such a law, an effort which resulted in part from a crackdown on backpage.com."
  • Big Tech fought against the bill — then folded, Axios' David McCabe reports.

Go deeper: Fed-up Congress considers making it easier to sue Big Social

Go deeper

Stocks fall 4% as sell-off worsens

A trader on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange. Photo: Johannes Eisele/AFP via Getty Images

Stocks fell more than 4% on Thursday, extending the market’s worst week since the financial crisis in 2008 following a spike in coronavirus cases around the world.

The big picture: All three indices are in correction, down over 10% from recent record-highs, amid a global market rout. It's the S&P 500's quickest decline into correction territory in the index's history, per Deutsche Bank.

Coronavirus updates: California monitors 8,400 potential cases

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins, the CDC, and China's Health Ministry. Note: China numbers are for the mainland only and U.S. numbers include repatriated citizens.

33 people in California have tested positive for the coronavirus, and health officials are monitoring 8,400 people who have recently returned from "points of concern," Gov. Gavin Newsom said Thursday.

The big picture: COVID-19 has killed more than 2,800 people and infected over 82,000 others in some 50 countries and territories. The novel coronavirus is now affecting every continent but Antarctica, and the WHO said Wednesday the number of new cases reported outside China has exceeded those inside the country for the first time.

Go deeperArrowUpdated 1 hour ago - Health

Watchdog opens probe into VA secretary over handling of sexual assault claim

VA Secretary Robert Wilkie on Fox Business Network’s "The Evening Edit" on Jan. 7. Photo: Steven Ferdman/Getty Images

The Department of Veterans Affairs Inspector General Michael Missal said Thursday he had opened an investigation into VA Secretary Robert Wilkie after lawmakers demanded an inquiry into his handling of a sexual misconduct report, the Washington Post reports.

Context: Wilkie allegedly "worked to discredit" the credibility of Democratic aide and veteran Andrea Goldstein after she reported last fall "that a man groped and propositioned her in the main lobby of the agency's D.C. Medical Center," a senior VA official told the Post.