In The News
Congressional Democrats filed a bill on Tuesday to study the safety of sex workers — an attempt to figure out if Congress’s own crackdown on sex trafficking websites has caused dangerous ramifications.
“As lawmakers, we are responsible for examining unintended consequences of all legislation,” Democratic Sen. Elizabeth Warren, a sponsor of the bill, said in a statement on Tuesday.
To combat the ills of the internet, federal lawmakers have increasingly focused on a decades-old law that shields tech companies like Facebook and YouTube from liability for content posted by their users.
On Tuesday, lawmakers put out a new proposal that would require the federal government to study how a pair of laws that targeted online sex trafficking broadly kicked sex workers off the internet last year.
Congress rarely passes major legislation with a bipartisan vote, but last year both parties agreed that sex work should no longer be promoted online. Experts and sex workers themselves warned that punishing sites that host prostitution ads would force the industry into dangerous shadows, but Congress ignored them.
Kate D’Adamo is witnessing a shift.
When Congress passed sweeping legislation aimed at curbing sex trafficking in 2018, one group was largely excluded from the debate: sex workers themselves.
After House and Senate negotiators reached an agreement Monday on a massive annual military spending measure, Sen. Bernie Sanders and Rep. Ro Khanna condemned the bipartisan compromise as "a bill of astonishing moral cowardice" that will hand the Pentagon $738 billion in 2020 while doing nothing to end U.S. complicity in Saudi Arabia's assault on Yemen.
Rep. Ro Khanna (D–Calif.) is drafting legislation that would study the effects of FOSTA, the bipartisan "sex trafficking" bill that bans hosting any web content promoting prostitution. Since its passage in April 2018, a host of anecdotal evidence suggests that the law has had negative outcomes for sex workers, law enforcement, and online speech.
When a group of bills known as SESTA/FOSTA was introduced in early 2018, it garnered widespread bipartisan support. The bills were intended to curb online sex trafficking, a goal that was easy for lawmakers to get behind, and one that few wanted to be seen actively opposing. One of the few dissenting votes was from Rep. Ro Khanna, a Democrat from California.
As soon as next week, Democrats in Congress will have another chance to end U.S. participation in the brutal Saudi-led war in Yemen.