HR22 (2018) Detail

Urging Congress to amend federal law on the issues of civil and criminal liability for providers and users of computer services carrying advertisements offering sex with sex trafficking victims.


HR 22 - AS INTRODUCED

 

 

2018 SESSION

18-2565

04/08

 

HOUSE RESOLUTION 22

 

A RESOLUTION urging Congress to amend federal law on the issues of civil and criminal liability for providers and users of computer services carrying advertisements offering sex with sex trafficking victims.

 

SPONSORS: Rep. McConnell, Ches. 12; Rep. Burridge, Ches. 16; Rep. Read, Rock. 17; Rep. Hinch, Hills. 21; Rep. Gould, Hills. 7

 

COMMITTEE: State-Federal Relations and Veterans Affairs

 

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ANALYSIS

 

This resolution urges Congress to amend federal law on the issues of civil and criminal liability for providers and users of computer services carrying advertisements offering sex with sex trafficking victims.

 

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18-2565

04/08

 

STATE OF NEW HAMPSHIRE

 

In the Year of Our Lord Two Thousand Eighteen

 

A RESOLUTION urging Congress to amend federal law on the issues of civil and criminal liability for providers and users of computer services carrying advertisements offering sex with sex trafficking victims.

 

Whereas, the United States Supreme Court in Near v. Minnesota, 283 U.S. 697, 713 (1931) stated, "The liberty of the press...consists in laying no previous restraints upon publications, and not in freedom from censure for criminal matter when published;" and

Whereas, enforcement of state criminal laws that punish facilitation of sex trafficking would be enforced after ads offering sex with victims of sex trafficking are published online; and

Whereas, the United States Supreme Court in Chaplinsky v. New Hampshire, 315 U.S. 568, 571-572 (1942) stated, "There are certain well defined and narrowly limited classes of speech, the prevention and punishment of which have never been thought to raise any Constitutional problem;" and

Whereas, the United States Supreme Court in U.S. v. Williams, 553 U.S. 285, 297 (2008) stated, “Offers to engage in illegal transactions are categorically excluded from First Amendment protection;” and

Whereas, advertising that offers sex with victims of sex trafficking is unprotected by the First Amendment and those who facilitate such advertising can be held criminally and civilly liable; and

Whereas, criminologists from Michigan State University and Loyola University Chicago found that “technology has reshaped the contours of prostitution, with an estimated 80 percent of all sales of sex now occurring online;” and

Whereas, in 2015 more than 75 percent of cases identified by the National Human Trafficking Resource Center as potential human trafficking cases were related to sex trafficking, and 63 percent of the latter cases involved adults; and

Whereas, the National Center on Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) reported an 846 percent increase from 2010 to 2015 in reports of suspected child sex trafficking--an increase NCMEC found to be “directly correlated to the increased use of the Internet to sell children for sex;” and

Whereas, to reduce online sex sales federal and state prosecutors must prosecute not only those who use the Internet to advertise sex with victims of sex trafficking but also providers and users of interactive computer services who facilitate such advertising; and

Whereas, while federal prosecutors have enforced 18 U.S.C. section 1591 against persons who use the Internet to advertise sex with victims of sex trafficking, they have not enforced this law against providers and users of interactive computer services who facilitate this advertising; and

Whereas, what now prevents federal prosecutors from doing all in their Constitutional power to curb online sex trafficking is language in 18 U.S.C. section 1591 which exempts from prosecution providers and users of interactive computer services who accept payment for carrying ads “in reckless disregard of the fact” that the ads offer sex with victims of sex trafficking; and

Whereas, while state prosecutors have enforced state criminal laws against persons who use the Internet to advertise sex with victims of sex trafficking, they too have not enforced these laws against providers and users of interactive computer services who facilitate this advertising; and

Whereas, what now prevents state prosecutors from doing all in their constitutional power to curb online sex trafficking is language in 47 U.S.C. section 230 which was interpreted by federal courts to immunize from prosecution providers and users of interactive computer services who carry ads knowing or having reason to know that the ads offer sex with victims of sex trafficking; and

Whereas, in a letter to members of Congress dated August 16, 2017, and signed by Attorneys General from 48 states, the National Association of Attorneys General stated, “[C]ertain federal courts have broadly interpreted the CDA . . . [S]ome state and local law enforcement agencies have been left powerless to act against online classified ad services . . . which have constructed their business models around advertising income gained from participants in the sex trade;” and

Whereas, 47 U.S.C. section 230 was enacted in response to 2 defamation cases (Cubby v. CompuServe, 776 F. Supp. 135, and Stratton Oakmont v. Prodigy Services, 1995 WL 323710) and was intended to provide “Protection for private blocking and screening of offensive material;” and

Whereas, the protections in 47 U.S.C. section 230(c) are significant--namely, no provider or user of an interactive computer service shall be (1) treated as the publisher or speaker of information provided by another content provider or (2) held civilly liable on account of any action voluntarily taken in good faith to restrict access to or availability of material considered objectionable;

Whereas, what 47 U.S.C. section 230 was not intended to provide is immunity from prosecution under State criminal laws and blanket protection from civil liability under federal (18 U.S.C. section 1595) or state laws for providers or users of an interactive computer service who carry ads knowing or having reason to know that the ads offer sex with victims of sex trafficking; and

Whereas, providing reparation for victims of sex trafficking is surely as important as providing redress for violations of intellectual property laws, but while Congress has specified in 47 U.S.C. section 230(e)(2) that “Nothing in this section shall be construed to limit . . . any law pertaining to intellectual property,” Congress has yet to also specify that “Nothing in this section shall be construed to limit any federal or state law pertaining to sex trafficking;” now, therefore, be it

Resolved by the House of Representatives:

That the Congress of the United States is respectfully requested to amend 18 U.S.C. section 1591 to permit prosecution of providers and users of interactive computer services who distribute ads in reckless disregard of the fact that the ads offer sex with sex trafficking victims and to amend 47 U.S.C. section 230 to clarify that it does not immunize providers and users of interactive computer services from state criminal liability or federal or state civil liability for carrying ads they know or have reason to know offer sex with sex trafficking victims; and

That a copy of this resolution be sent by the clerk of the house of representatives to the Speaker of the United States House of Representatives, the Majority Leader of the United States Senate, and each member of the New Hampshire congressional delegation.  

Links

HR22 at GenCourtMobile

Action Dates

Date Body Type
Jan. 24, 2018 House Hearing
Feb. 14, 2018 House Exec Session
House Floor Vote
March 6, 2018 House Floor Vote

Bill Text Revisions

HR22 Revision: 2272 Date: Nov. 13, 2017, 8:13 a.m.

Docket

Date Status
Jan. 3, 2018 Introduced 01/03/2018 and referred to State-Federal Relations and Veterans Affairs HJ 1 P. 25
Jan. 24, 2018 Public Hearing: 01/24/2018 11:00 AM LOB 206
Feb. 14, 2018 Full Committee Work Session: 02/14/2018 10:00 AM LOB 206
Feb. 14, 2018 Executive Session: 02/14/2018 LOB 206
Committee Report: Inexpedient to Legislate (Vote 18-0; CC)
March 6, 2018 Committee Report: Inexpedient to Legislate for 03/06/2018 (Vote 18-0; CC) HC 9 P. 32
March 6, 2018 Inexpedient to Legislate: MA VV 03/06/2018 HJ 6 P. 55