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House passes online sex trafficking bill

Internet cafe
In an internet cafe, a site where cybersex is offered is blocked by the Philippines authorities. Photo: Jonas Gratzer / LightRocket via Getty Images

"The House ... passed a bill [388-25] that gives victims and prosecutors more power to sue websites that knowingly aided sex trafficking, adding a new level of accountability for internet companies," the N.Y. Times Cecilia Kang reports.

Why it matters: "[S]ex trafficking victims and law enforcement officials say the existing law, known as Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, has been too loosely applied by sites like Backpage.com, a site known for prostitution and sex trafficking."

  • "Silicon Valley had strongly opposed the bill, because it would chip away at an existing law that gives internet companies broad immunity for the content that people put on their services. Tech companies that argued against the bill said that the current law has encouraged free speech online and helped the internet thrive."
  • "Some large online companies, including Facebook, eventually backed off from their opposition to the bill after its scope was narrowed."
  • What's next: "A similar bill in the Senate was expected to pass soon."
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