OPINION: Young Hot Females In Your Area Looking for Job Security
By Ren Rennie
In April of last year, two bills were passed by congress in the United States intended to help cut down illegal online sex trafficking. The two bills, known as the Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act (FOSTA) and the Stop Enabling Sex Traffickers Act (SESTA), create an exception to one of the most important pieces of internet legislation created: Section 230, which holds that “No provider or user of an interactive computer service shall be treated as the publisher or speaker of any information provided by another information content provider.” In short, Section 230 prevents platforms or ISPs from being held responsible for user-created content. The two new bills create an exception to this rule, that means website publishers can now face prosecution if they are found to be “facilitating” sex trafficking. FOSTA-SESTA expands previous US prostitution law to cover those who use the internet to “promote of facilitate prostitution”. Supporters of the bill have championed them as essential in allowing online policing and allowing survivors of sex trafficking to sue these websites for enabling the trafficking to occur. What these supporters fail to acknowledge is that the internet allows legitimate sex workers to do their work in safer conditions. A major issue with FOSTA-SESTA, however, is that it does nothing to differentiate between sex trafficking and consensual sex work.
FOSTA-SESTA tears a huge hole in this upholding of freedom of speech on the internet. And yeah, I know when you see the phrase “freedom of speech” you probably think of some gun-toting redneck yelling racist and homophobic slurs into the void, but consider what this means for anyone that’s not a jackass. In the current state of the world, a large portion of sex workers in the industry are independent, meaning that the only way they can get business is self-promotion. For sex workers, the internet provides a safe and convenient way to advertise their services, as well as to vet and choose their clients. FOSTA-SESTA puts these individuals at risk, because a large portion of their platforms being seized or pulled from the internet. Sites like backpage.com have been banned – sites with a record of blacklisted and dangerous potential clients.
The immediate results of FOSTA-SESTA means that sex workers have been forced off the internet and onto the streets. US sex worker organisations have reported that the removal of these safety systems have led to reports of sex workers disappearing. The most heavily impacted have been the most marginalised (e.g. people of colour, LGBTQ people, people with disabilities and low-income people), as the targets of FOSTA-SESTA so far have mostly been free and low-cost platforms. It’s led to the most at-risk groups of sex workers seeing a drastic reduction in business, receiving phone calls or texts from pimps preying on the desperate, promising them clients.
As for the bills’ impact outside the states? Sex workers here in Australia have felt the strain. As soon as the legislation was passed, local sex workers lost their ability to advertise and vet clients online on these mostly American-run websites. The Sex Workers Outreach Project (SWOP) received increased reports of violence experienced by local sex workers. Sex workers are having their accounts banned and shadowbanned on social media, such as Instagram and Twitter. Recently, well-known stripper and artist @jacqthestripper had her account frozen by Instagram – a fate shared by many profiles of users suspected to be sex workers. Luckily for Jacq, her 140,000-odd followers banded together to report the disappearance of her account to Instagram and her account was unfrozen. However, many of the users who shared her fate on Instagram or other content-sharing sites such as Patreon are not as lucky, having to rebuild their entire livelihood from scratch and having their source of income decimated.
This whole debacle has, for the most part, been quietly sidestepped by mainstream media who would otherwise cause an uproar about bills that affect the sanctity of free speech. Why? Because as it stands, sex workers are still looked down upon. Their existence is still used as a punchline and an insult. You may think you don’t know any sex workers, or anyone that is affected by this legislation. Maybe it will matter to you when Pornhub starts to feel the strain for the ads for sexual services placed on their website and removes their content. Until then, enjoy the free content while it lasts.