Tell Congress: Investigate the Harm Caused By SESTA/FOSTA

Image of protesters holding signs and a red umbrella. Signs read "Protection Not Criminalization" and "FOSTA-SESTA Kills Sex Workers"

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On April 11, 2018, SESTA/FOSTA became law. It censored wide swaths of the Internet and got people killed. The SAFE SEX Workers Study Act gives us a crucial opportunity to fully understand the impact of Section 230 changes on the lives of marginalized people, especially those who trade sex. Sign the petition to ask your representatives to co-sponsor the SAFE SEX Workers Study Act.

SESTA/FOSTA, a major carve out from Section 230, was framed as an anti-trafficking bill and passed with little opposition—in spite of sex workers’ pleas to understand how it would impact people trading sex. Almost immediately, sex workers’ fears came true: out of fear of litigation, SESTA/FOSTA pushed online platforms to tear down the platforms and connection to community that kept sex workers safe.

One after another, the sites where sex workers found clients and work closed down. Craigslist removed its Personals section and Backpage shuttered. Sex worker communities, allies and people profiled to be sex workers were blocked and banned on a range of platforms. Almost overnight, sex workers lost crucial tools for vetting clients, sharing safety tips, and stabilizing their income, pushing many into far-riskier forms of work

It’s clear that SESTA/FOSTA’s harms far outweigh any good: it has only been used once to aid in Federal sex trafficking prosecutions, but sex workers—a large percentage of whom are transgender and/or people of color—have reported a shocking increase in homicidal attacks, self-harm, and suicide. 

SESTA/FOSTA has joined the long list of spurious Internet bills with stomach-churning consequences for human life and human rights. Luckily, with the SAFE SEX Workers Study Act, we have the chance to prevent more mistakes like SESTA/FOSTA.

This is a critical opportunity to understand the real-world impact of Internet policy. Sign the petition and urge your representatives to pass the SAFE SEX Workers Study Act!

John Oliver breaks down SESTA/FOSTA: “Badly written laws can have massive consequences.”

This effort is organized in coordination with the Sex Workers Project of the Urban Justice Center and Reframe Health and Justice.