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The Well-Meaning ‘Stop Enabling Sex Traffickers Act’ Could Be A Trojan Horse

It’s hard for me to argue about a proposed law called Stop Enabling Sex Traffickers Act. After all, I’m co-founder and CEO of, an internet safety group, and have been active in child protection organizations for decades. But this proposed law, which has the support of several prominent Republican and Democratic senators, may have some unintended consequences both for tech companies and the very people the bill hopes to protect.

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  1. Lake County

    I thought this was an important quote from the article:

    As I understand the bill, ignorance of an offense is an excuse (and that makes sense since it would be nearly impossible for a company to have knowledge of every single abuse on its service), so the incentive would be to dumb down some of their existing reporting features and efforts to find illegal content. My fear is that, if this bill is passed, they may opt to limit their use of some of these technologies as a way of complying with that law. If that sounds implausible, consider how many companies deal with the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act that makes it illegal for them to knowingly collect personal information from children under 13. While some companies do ask for date of birth and deny access to those under 13, there are many companies that simply don’t ask so that they can remain compliant by simply not knowing.

  2. Slippery slope of who is responsible

    Shouldn’t this apply to those entities that actually print too, e.g. newspapers, magazines, etc? They are just as culpable. This could be medium neutral and just broad brush apply to anything anyone reads that is distributed by anyone, anytime. Ethically and morally, there is a need for these entities to do something, but legally like this law? No. They can chose to not post/print things if they feel it is against their T&Cs.

    This is the driver of a car needs to know who is wearing a seatbelt and who is not because the driver is responsible and liable in the end for everyone in the car, just like a taxi driver/train engineer/bus driver/pilot/boat captain is for their crew and passengers/cargo.

    This is a slippery slope that really should be addressed more carefully in greater forums of debate and discussion. None of this midnight passing without these things like IML was passed in the dead of the night in similar fashion.

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