Tuesday, January 07, 2014

Superbowl in New Jersey heightens over trafficking and Section 230 "responsibility avoidance"

The Washington Times and Associated Press are reporting, in stories by Katie Zizema and Samantha Henry, that authorities are on high alert for sex trafficking, especially of minors, in New Jersey around the time of the Super Bowl Feb. 4.

New Jersey tried to pass a law holding Internet sites that allow ads for solicitation of trafficking responsible, and the law was struck down under Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act.  Service providers cannot be required (to escape civil and criminal liability, in most cases) to pre-screen user content, because there is far too much (when it is non-selective) to be reviewed before publication. In cases of federal law, they can be held responsible if they know criminal violations occur, but a few states have asked for Section 230 exemptions to be removed for state criminal laws, which might require much more pro-activity than federal law in terms of pre-publication content review to avoid liability.  Again, this is a place where lines cannot be drawn easily, despite Backpage and Craigslist.
I couldn’t find the TWT article online, but I found it on a Pueblo newspaper here. In TWT, it's on page A6 on Tuesday, January 7, 2013 and is titled "State to curb state trafficking for Super Bowl".  The article also mentions that "responsibility" goes both ways;  police will troll Internet ads that could involve forced servitude or minors. The the questions about encryption and "privacy" could come into play. 
In the Section 230 issue, the sides talk past one another.

Picture: Near the New Jersey Meadowlands from an Amtrak train.  


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