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) KhannaReject National Defense Authorization Act, save Yemen instead Sanders revokes congressional endorsement for Young Turks founder Cenk Uygur Sanders endorses Young Turks founder Cenk Uygur for Katie Hill's former House seat 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 PaulPentagon to take bigger role in vetting foreign students after Pensacola shooting Overnight Defense: House passes compromise defense bill | Turkey sanctions advance in Senate over Trump objections | Top general says military won't be 'raping, burning and pillaging' after Trump pardons Rand Paul: 'We need to re-examine' US-Saudi relationship after Florida shooting MORE (R-Ky.) and Ron WydenRonald (Ron) Lee WydenThe Hill's Morning Report — Sponsored by AdvaMed — House panel delays impeachment vote until Friday Senators zero in on shadowy court at center of IG report Trump administration approves Medicaid work requirements in South Carolina 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.