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Democratic congressman calls for study of effects of sex-trafficking law

Democratic congressman calls for study of effects of sex-trafficking law
© Greg Nash

Rep. Ro KhannaRohit (Ro) KhannaHouse conservatives take aim at Schumer-led bipartisan China bill Medical supplies arriving in India amid surge in COVID-19 infections Overnight Health Care: US to share millions of AstraZeneca vaccine doses with other countries | Biden speaks with Prime Minister Modi as COVID-19 surges in India MORE (D-Calif.) said Monday that he will introduce legislation calling for a study on the effects of a recent sex-trafficking law on free speech and the safety of sex workers.

The Stop Enabling Sex Traffickers Act and Allow States and Victims to Fight Online Sex Trafficking Acts, collectively known as FOSTA-SESTA, make it illegal to knowingly assist or facilitate sex trafficking and excludes advertisements for sex work from the Communications Decency Act’s “safe harbor” rule.

The law passed with bipartisan support in 2018, with only Sens. Rand PaulRandal (Rand) Howard PaulOvernight Health Care: Biden announces 1M have enrolled in special ObamaCare sign-up period | Rand Paul clashes with Fauci over coronavirus origins | Biden vows to get 'more aggressive' on lifestyle benefits of vaccines Rand Paul clashes with Fauci over coronavirus origins Tim Scott sparks buzz in crowded field of White House hopefuls MORE (R-Ky.) and Ron WydenRonald (Ron) Lee WydenOn The Money: Job openings jump to record high of 8.1 million | Wyden opposes gas tax hike | Airlines feel fuel crunch Green future needs to be built with union jobs and prevailing wage Wyden: Funding infrastructure with gas tax hike a 'big mistake' MORE (D-Ore.) voting against it in the Senate, but both free speech organizations and sex workers have criticized the measure.

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“The law was supposed to prevent online sex trafficking, but instead criminalized online sex work and suppressed free speech,” Khanna tweeted, saying his proposal would commission a National Institutes of Health study on its effects.

The law’s provisions on online speech, he added, also deprived sex workers of a method they could use to screen out potentially dangerous clients.

“Prior to SESTA-FOSTA, sex workers used websites to screen clients. Now those sites are illegal, and sex workers can’t take safety measures like screening a potential client’s social media, prearranging a public meeting spot, or sharing their location with friends,” he tweeted.

“We need a better understanding of how the shutting down of these websites has endangered sex workers,” Khanna added.