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Sen. Ron Wyden (left) proposed ammendments to a bill led by Sen. Rob Portman's (center) among others. Photo: Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call

The Senate overwhelmingly agreed to send a bill to President Trump’s desk on Wednesday that will make it possible for victims of sex trafficking to sue web platforms if they knowingly facilitate the crime through the content they host.

Why it matters: The bill — which large platforms eventually supported under pressure — is the first real legislative blow to social media, and could be a sign of more to come.

The details:

  • The bill makes a website liable if it knowingly facilitates web trafficking, weakening the shield from legal risk that had traditionally protected sites from being sued over user-generated content.
  • Sen. Ron Wyden, a longtime critic of the bill, withdrew an amendment ensuring that platforms that take action to stop trafficking don't incur more risk by doing so. He proposed an amendment that increased funding to prosecutors working on trafficking, but it failed to get added to the bill.
  • Wyden said the bill would send online trafficking activity to the so-called dark web and that removing liability protections for websites would put "vulnerable groups and small startups" at risk.

What’s next: The president is expected to sign the bill.

Go deeper

Column / Harder Line

New England power fight foreshadows divisive clean energy future

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

It wasn’t his first choice, but Sean Mahoney isn’t fighting a 150-mile proposed power line sending Canadian hydropower to New England as part of the region’s climate-change goals.

Why he matters: Mahoney, a senior expert at the nonprofit Conservation Law Foundation who lives in Maine, is seeking to compromise in a bitter battle over the proposal. Expect more fights like this as President Biden and other political leaders pursue zero-carbon economies over the next 30 years.

Mike Allen, author of AM
9 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Biden adviser Cedric Richmond sees first-term progress on reparations

Illustration: "Axios on HBO"

White House senior adviser Cedric Richmond told "Axios on HBO" that it's "doable" for President Biden to make first-term progress on breaking down barriers for people of color, while Congress studies reparations for slavery.

Why it matters: Biden said on the campaign trail that he supports creation of a commission to study and develop proposals for reparations — direct payments for African-Americans.

Cyber CEO: Next war will hit regular Americans online

Any future real-world conflict between the United States and an adversary like China or Russia will have direct impacts on regular Americans because of the risk of cyber attack, Kevin Mandia, CEO of cybersecurity company FireEye, tells "Axios on HBO."

What they're saying: "The next conflict where the gloves come off in cyber, the American citizen will be dragged into it, whether they want to be or not. Period."