On April 11, 2022, the fourth anniversary of SESTA/FOSTA becoming law, Fight for the Future, the Sex Workers Project of the Urban Justice Center, and Reframe Health and Justice will hold a call-in day in support of the SAFE SEX Workers Study Act. This common-sense information gathering bill is supported by 70 civil and human rights organizations and will ensure that Congress understands the impacts of Section 230 amendments on marginalized people before advancing other Section 230 changes—like the dangerous and widely opposed EARN IT Act. Fight for the Future asks the public to contact their legislators using this simple call tool and to amplify the action across their networks.
People are encouraged to take action at: https://www.fightforthefuture.org/actions/sesta-fosta-anniversary
SESTA/FOSTA was intended to address sex trafficking by amending Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act to create a new liability for website owners and online platforms. Instead, as Fight for the Future Director Evan Greer (she/her) explains in a recent op-ed, it immediately increased the dangers faced by sex workers and restricted free expression online—all while failing to reduce sex trafficking in any meaningful way.
In the days between Congress passing SESTA/FOSTA and its signing on April 11, 2018, dozens of platforms either shut down or began kicking off sex workers. These platforms included avenues sex workers relied on for income and harm reduction practices, including advertising sites, Reddit threads, dating sites, and a website used to both screen clients and build community. Through community-based research, sex workers have documented a frightening increase in violence and other forms of harm due to the disappearance of these online tools.
It’s past time for due diligence: Congress must pass the SAFE SEX Workers Study Act to realize a critically needed shift in how we understand digital oversight and regulation, anti-trafficking efforts, and sex workers’ rights. Join us in support of this necessary bill by taking action HERE.
Organizing partners issued the following statements:
“In April of 2018, with the passage of FOSTA/SESTA and the closure of Backpage, sex workers across the globe lost a range of digital platforms used for meeting resource needs, staying safe, accessing community, and organizing. In the last several years, the community has reported a range of impacts of losing these digital spaces – increased violence and dependence to fear and erasure. The SAFE SEX Worker Study Act is the first bill which asks the government to take a serious look at what happens when marginalized communities are turned into legal liabilities for the spaces they seek to stay safe,” said Kate D’Adamo, Partner, Reframe Health and Justice (she/they).
“It is unacceptable for the government to see sex workers as nothing more than collateral damage in their pursuit to regulate digital spaces. In the years since SESTA/FOSTA’s passage, through the lived experiences of our staff and clients, we have seen the direct harm it has caused on people who trade sex. This harm has disproportionately targeted some of the most marginalized communities, including Trans women of color, rural sex workers, survivors of violence, and migrants. As we mark another year since its passage, Congress must finally heed the dire warnings of sex workers on the misguided path the government is on in the name of digital oversight. Congress must pass the SAFE SEX Workers Study Act,” explained Mariah Grant, Director of Research and Advocacy, the Sex Workers Project of the Urban Justice Center (she/her/ella).
“Momentum is building around efforts to amend Section 230, but lawmakers have so far ignored the disastrous impact that SESTA/FOSTA, the only extant Section 230 revision, has had on sex workers, people of color, LGBTQ+ people, and other marginalized people. From the outset, sex workers predicted that marginalized communities would be the first to be thrown under the bus by litigation-fearing tech companies that value profit above human safety and rights. Congress must pass the SAFE SEX Workers Study Act to understand the collateral damage of internet legislation before they consider measures like the EARN IT Act, which will get even more people killed,” said Evan Greer, Director, Fight for the Future (she/her).
The Sex Workers Project of the Urban Justice Center, Zola Z. Bruce, Director of Communications: firstname.lastname@example.org
Reframe Health and Justice, Kate D’Adamo, Partner: Kate@reframehealthandjustice.com
Fight for the Future, Evan Greer, Director: email@example.com