176 Children’s Legal Rights Journal [Vol. 39:2 2019]
increases violence against high-risk crime victims, such as homeless children and sex
workers, among others. Opponents vehemently believe that all the bill does is make it
easier to censor free speech over the internet. Law Professor Eric Goldman of Santa Clara
University School of Law wrote that “the bill would expose Internet entrepreneurs to
additional unclear criminal risk, and that would chill socially beneficial entrepreneurship
outside the bill’s target zone.”
Another large group of opponents of the bill is composed of sex workers. Sex
workers argue that the bill is conflating consensual sex work with nonconsensual sex work.
Sex workers argue that the bill actually leaves them vulnerable to harm more than being
able to vet their clients online does. Sex advocates are even arguing that removing
transparent websites like Backpage.com will make nonconsensual victims less visible and
lead them into the dark web. The dark web is part of the World Wide Web that requires
special software to access. There are sites that are effectively “hidden;” sites that have not
been indexed by a search engine and can only be accessed if you know the address of the
site. Users of the dark web have long evaded law enforcement, and finding victims being
sold through it is nearly impossible.
The FOSTA-SESTA Act is expected to help thwart and cut down on the number of
trafficked children online but it would be unreasonable to assume that this battle between
First Amendment rights and child trafficking will end here. As long as there are opponents
of the Section 230 amendment, the online child sex trafficking industry will continue to
flourish. Admittedly, the bill is not perfect and creates issues such as those discussed above,
but it is a step in the right direction. This documentary and the legal outcomes demonstrate
that we need to continue to spread awareness and educate the public about what child sex
trafficking is and how the trade continues to grow in the United States.
Backpage.com, LLC v. Dart, 807 F.3d 229, 231 (7th Cir. 2015).
Conor Clarke, How the Wolf of Wallstreet Created the Internet, SLATE (Jan. 7, 2014),
Doe v. Backpage.com, LLC, 817 F.3d 12, 15 (1st Cir. 2016).
H.R. REP. NO. 115-1865, (2017–2018).
Eric Goldman, Warning: Draft “No Immunity for Sex Traffickers Online Act” Bill Poses Major Threat to
Section 230, TECHNOLOGY & MARKETING LAW BLOG (Mar. 23, 2017),