What is that? Unless you are in the sex worker sphere, you have no idea how this act can and will change your life.

You don’t have to be a sex worker to feel the freedom of speech encroachment of our individual rights being eroded away by this Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act.. FOSTA passed in late February. It’s been largely portrayed by the media and those in Congress as an “anti-sex trafficking” measure. It does nothing to fight sex trafficking, but it changes how individuals can express their sexual freedoms and dating activities, not only sex worker advertising, in a variety of ways.

Many online sites used to advertise or screen clients of those in the sex worker biz are changing their policies regarding any advertising.

Looking for love in all the obvious (online) places? Not on Craigslist. Craigslist explains in the brief notice that now appears in place of potential partners if you try to go to a personals listing.

Under current law, sites can’t be held legally liable if someone uses veiled terms to solicit commercial sex—aka prostitution. Such as Casual Encounters through the Craigslist personals.

But FOSTA will change that, opening up Craigslist (and every other digital platform) to serious legal and financial jeopardy should it accidentally “promote” or “facilitate” prostitution.

Prostitution is not sex trafficking. Prostitution involves consent and sex trafficking does not.

FOSTA will “subject websites to criminal and civil liability when third parties (users) misuse online personals unlawfully.”

So what does this mean for sex workers?

Ads for prostitution and discussion of prostitution and free-speech are implicated. Blogs could be shut down, and many could find their social-media accounts suspended simply for being honest about their work.

FOSTA makes it a federal crime to “promote or facilitate the prostitution of another person,” punishable by up to 10 years in prison, plus fines. For promoting the prostitution of five or more people, the penalty is 25 years.”

Sex workers don’t have to worry about being punished for posting their own ads, but they could run afoul of the law if working in pairs or helping a colleague place an ad.

FOSTA targets are websites, apps, and message boards. Congress updated Section 230, which has governed the internet for 22 years. It had protected web platforms from being sued in civil court or criminally charged by state prosecutors for third-party (i.e., user-posted) content.

Section 230 had stated that unless they create the content in whole or part, these platforms shall not be treated as the speaker of such content, and good-faith efforts at content moderation (like banning ads that explicitly mention illegal acts or auto-filtering out content that contains prohibited words) do not change this.

Under FOSTA, this won’t apply when paid sex is concerned.

Sites are updating and changing things in order to prohibit any content that could get them held liable.

If that’s not bad enough, FOSTA “shall apply regardless of whether the conduct alleged occurred… before, on, or after such date of enactment.”

This is known as an ex-post facto law, and it’s forbidden by the U.S. Constitution.

No less than the U.S. Department of Justice has urged against passing FOSTA, calling it unconstitutional and saying that it would make prosecuting sex traffickers harder. “You’re heading in the wrong direction if you [pass a bill] that would raise the burden of proof in cases against sex traffickers,” said Oregon Sen. Ron Wyden Wednesday from the Senate floor.

Wyden—who co-authored Section 230—was the only Democrat to vote against the bill, and Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul the only Republican. An amendment to FOSTA proposed by Wyden would have clarified that websites can try to filter out illegal content without increasing their liability, but it was overwhelmingly defeated.

Wyden stressed that FOSTA is not a matter of substituting some free-speech rights for a better ability to stop sex trafficking. Rather, it’s imposing serious burdens while at best doing nothing for trafficking victims and quite likely making their lives worse.

For one thing, it incentivizes law enforcement to go after third parties rather than stop traffickers or rescue victims. It also takes away an important tool for finding trafficking victims—the open internet. This new paradigm creates huge incentives for cops and prosecutors to go after websites and apps rather than actual criminals—ensuring thatreal victims, and public safety, will suffer along with open expression. Online ads have allowed an untold number of victims to be identified and found. What’s more, the digital trail of ads, emails, and texts can provide evidence that makes catching and prosecuting the perpetrators easier. Law enforcement loses this when traffickers switch to private, encrypted, or dark web forums.

But wait, there’s more!

Clean houses and want to post an ad on Craigslist? It was free until now. Now it will cost you $5 an ad. That is everytime you post.

The domino effect of FOSTA is just starting to rear its head.

Do you have any domino effects of FOSTA? What are they? You don’t have to be a sex worker for this act to affect you.

Fight against #FOSTA

Check out FOSTA FAIL!

Available for the next 5 days via @Teespring:

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