Don’t Allow NAFTA to Undermine New Law Protecting Children from Sex Trafficking Online

Don’t Allow NAFTA to Undermine New Law Protecting Children from Sex Trafficking Online, 130 Advocates Tell U.S. Trade Rep

The new law that aims to combat child sex trafficking online could be undermined in the current NAFTA negotiations, according to a letter sent by 130 organizations and individuals to U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer. The group, led by anti-child trafficking organization ECPAT-USA, voiced concern that the tech community is trying to make an end run around the recently passed SESTA-FOSTA law (H.R. 1865).

On May 8, President Trump signed H.R. 1865, which ended websites’ ability to rely on a legal loophole in the law referred to as Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act (CDA) of 1996. The bill clarifies that websites may not rely on CDA 230 when they knowingly enable trafficking. In addition, the legislation adds a new tool for criminal prosecutors by expanding an existing federal prostitution statute to cover online sex trafficking.

Tech companies want the U.S. to include Section 230 without the FOSTA exception in the new NAFTA agreement. Such a provision may undermine the bipartisan legislative accomplishment in reforming blanket legal immunity for online platforms that aid child trafficking.

“We are putting our Trade Representative on notice not to bend to the tech lobbying community," said Carol Smolenski, Executive Director of ECPAT-USA. "SESTA-FOSTA passed with overwhelming support in both Houses of Congress. We are not going to turn a blind eye while the tech lobby undermines this new law via a trade deal.”

The letter was signed by 130 organizations and individuals from the U.S., Canada, and Mexico.