21st Century Fox backs bill to stop online sex trafficking

21st Century Fox backs bill to stop online sex trafficking
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21st Century Fox, the parent company of Fox News, announced Wednesday its support of a bill aimed at mitigating online sex trafficking.

In a letter to Sens. Rob PortmanRobert (Rob) Jones PortmanSenate panel spars with Trump administration over treatment of unaccompanied immigrant children Senate study: Trump hasn’t provided adequate support to detained migrant children Senators introduce bill to change process to levy national security tariffs MORE (R-Ohio) and Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), sponsors of the Stop Enabling Sex Traffickers Act of 2017, the company said that it strongly backs the bill and slammed critics of the legislation for resorting “to hyperbole and scare tactics.”

“As a company that could benefit from legal protections afforded in Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, we are confident the narrow and tailored legislation that you have proposed will appropriately target bad actors participating in this illegal activity, and immediately serve to protect the most vulnerable among us from predatory sex traffickers,” 21st Century Fox wrote in their letter to the lawmakers.

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Portman and Blumenthal’s bill amends Section 230 of the Communication Decency Act, which protects internet companies from being held liable for illegal content on their platforms.

With their bill, Blumenthal and Portman intend to make internet companies more accountable by weakening such protections, specifically in regard to cases of sex trafficking.

Oracle has also backed Portman and Blumenthal’s legislation.

Your legislation does not, as suggested by the bill’s opponents, usher the end of the Internet,” Oracle wrote in a letter supporting it. “If enacted, it will establish some measure of accountability for those that cynically sell advertising but are unprepared to help curtail sex trafficking.”

Most technology companies, however, like Google, Facebook and Amazon, have opposed the bill out of concern that it will make them liable for third-party content on their platforms that they don’t necessarily support.

Trade associations representing these companies like the Consumer Technology Association and the Internet Association have vocally criticized the legislation which they say could be harmful to free speech on the internet.

“The threat of liability can transform ISPs and websites into gatekeepers and enforcement agents, incentivizing them to block user generated content, even if legal — making the web less free, innovative, and collaborative,” the Internet Alliance argues.

The Consumer Technology Association has made the case that such liability would also be harmful to commerce.

“Policymakers realized that if online intermediaries were held responsible for the actions of each and every user, the potential liability would be so massive that no reasonable person would start or invest in such a business,” the trade group wrote in an August letter to Blumenthal and Portman on the bill.

Some lawmakers have been hesitant to oppose the act. Technology industry insiders argue that lawmakers are not speaking out for them out of fear of being labeled as weak on stopping sex trafficking.

Sen. Ron WydenRonald (Ron) Lee WydenGroup files lawsuit to force Georgia to adopt paper ballots Treasury releases proposed rules on major part of Trump tax law Rubio slams Google over plans to unveil censored Chinese search engine MORE, who is often vocal on technology policy, has strongly opposed the bill. The Oregon Democrat told reporters on Wednesday that the bill would “undermine the foundation of the internet.”