Will Congress censor Reddit in the name of combatting sex trafficking online?
No one supports child sex trafficking. All major technology companies, in some way, are trying to fight this heinous crime. Right now, the Senate is debating a measure that would weaken laws protecting online free speech and the current robust online economy, while doing little to help the fight against child sex traffickers.
The law protecting free speech and the online economy is called Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act. This law prevents people from suing “interactive computer services,” such as Reddit, Facebook, Amazon, Yelp and others for content that users create. The law also prevents states from charging these companies with crimes under state law. Congress passed Section 230 to provide legal protection to online companies making good-faith efforts to block, or filter, obscene content.
Section 230 does not bar prosecution of federal crimes. To the extent that interactive computer services have reason to know child predators use their sites and are doing nothing, or worse are assisting or abetting these child predators, the federal government led by the Department of Justice can investigate and prosecute. An exception to the law is not necessary where most of the exception already exists.