Wednesday, September 06, 2017

Ars Technica offers major article on Backpage and Section 230


Timothy B Lee of Ars Technica has written a detailed article analyzing the proposals in Congress to weaken Section 230 to make it easier for states to go after websites that host sex trafficking ads.  The link is here. Lee reports that the bills seem to have considerable traction in Congress. Lee also adds the libertarian argument that the laws are not likely to reduce sex trafficking but will drive it underground.  Backpage allegedly developed a way to accept questionable ads with keywords. 

I’ll consider looking at this and probably will expand in detail on Wordpress soon. 

But Lee’s analysis suggests it is mainly a narrow range of websites at most risk.  He doesn’t consider shared web hosting companies (like Blue Host) and whether they could be at more risk.  There are ideas that some websites would be required to add adult-id for sign-in, a debate that we had with COPA a decade ago.  But there have been some advances in this area that could make it more practical, as we see with the video-editing company VidAngel. 
  
This is a changing story,  with lots of wrinkles that can evolve with technology.  Lee’s byline does say that Section 230 is viewed as a legal cornerstone of the Internet economy.

None of my sites require user logon.  One site allows credit card processing which is managed by a third party with encryption and PGP. I suppose it's possible to add adult-id to that but the whole topic needs a close look. 
  
I still like Ashton Kutcher's idea, "Real men don't buy girls."  Kutcher is one of my favorite tech and Hollywood executives. 

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