A new bipartisan bill introduced in the Senate intends to crack down on human trafficking. The legislation would make it possible for authorities to take action against websites and other digital services that don’t combat users who post exploitative content. Though it seems like a pretty apolitical move, that’s of course not the case.
The bill would amend a portion of the Communications Decency Act known as Section 230, which essentially gives tech companies safe harbor from most of the content users post on their platforms. Thus, companies like Reddit and Airbnb are not held legally liable for such content. Recode reports that the bill’s authors intend the changes to be very specific; it quotes Senator Rob Portman (R-OH), who says the section would be changed just so websites that “facilitate sex trafficking can be held liable and that victims can get justice.”
Still, technology companies are already not pleased. The Internet Association, which represents many tech juggernauts including Amazon, Facebook, and Google, has already opposed the bill. The lobbying group told Recode it was “overly broad and counterproductive in the fight to combat human trafficking.” So even for this seemingly bipartisan effort, we’re in for a divisive fight. 2017, man.