Congress should listen to sex workers before changing Section 230 again

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
March 3, 2022

Fight for the Future is glad to see the reintroduction of the SAFE SEX Workers Study Act today. This common sense information gathering bill, introduced by Senators Elizabeth Warren (D-CA), Ron Wyden (D-OR), and Representatives Ro Khanna (D-CA) and Barbara Lee (D-CA), would require the US government to study the catastrophic effects of SESTA/FOSTA, legislation passed in 2018 that was intended to address online sex trafficking but ended up doing enormous harm to consensual sex workers and the LGBTQ+ community. Read a fact sheet on the SAFE SEX Workers Study Act created by Reframe Health and Justice and the Sex Workers Project of the Urban Justice Center here, and a press release from those groups here.

Fight for the Future has launched a campaign page to drive emails to lawmakers calling on them to cosponsor and support the SAFE SEX Workers Study Act. 

Evan Greer (she/her) director of Fight for the Future, issued this statement: “SESTA/FOSTA, the last change that lawmakers made to Section 230, was a disaster that literally got people killed and led to widespread censorship of marginalized people’s speech. It’s essential that lawmakers learn from their mistakes to avoid repeating them. Congress needs to listen to sex workers and harm reduction experts. The SAFE SEX Workers Study Act would provide lawmakers with the data they need to legislate in an informed manner. It’s irresponsible and immoral for lawmakers to continue pushing for reckless changes to Section 230 without studying the impact of the last changes. Even lawmakers who support changing 230 should support this bill, to ensure that their proposals are informed by evidence and data.”

Last year, a coalition of more than 70 racial justice, LGBTQ+, civil liberities, and human rights groups warned Congress about the dangers of making uncareful changes to Section 230, and urged lawmakers to pass the SAFE SEX Workers Study Act before further amendming 230. 

Fight for the Future will continue to push for lawmakers to center the needs of marginalized and impacted communities in all tech regulations. If Congress wants to address the harms of Big Tech, instead of tinkering with Section 230 they should start by passing a real Federal data privacy law, advancing antitrust reform, banning surveillance advertising, and calling for FTC enforcement on algorithmic harms. 

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