Wednesday, March 28, 2018

The Law Sitting on Trump's Desk About Online Sex Trafficking Needs to Be Signed

Some libertarians insist that this is a tempest in a teapot,  but today's Idaho Statesman reports arrests of 11 men who solicited sex with 15 year olds through Craigslist, who sensibly had since sit down their personals section because of the risk the new law would create.


  1. The law is a horrible, horrible idea. It is about a sensible as banning all bullets to stop "gun crime."

    The moment you make sites responsible for that sort of policing, you turn them into censors. Don't we have enough of that with Youtube and Twitter?

    And, a regulation like this will simply prevent a whole lot of sites from being able to even operate. Do you like comments sections? Most sites don't have the time and money to vet every comment before posting. So, bye bye comment sections.

    Meanwhile, the big sites, the monopolies, will be able to raise their prices and pay censors, and can afford the lawyers to deal with the issue. It would be a classic case of regulation enabling monopolies.

    I'm with the Libertarians on free speech, and I am a conservative and abandoned the Libertarian party 40 years ago. Free speech works! Sex trafficking will always find a way, but open speech on the Internet, especially by conservatives is under grave threat already!

  2. Not that I care that much, but it would seem that blaming the medium for the acts of the user is like blaming the gun for the shooter acts.

    Blaming craigslist for the acts of some is like blaming them because you put up a for sale ad for stolen goods.

  3. The reason for the law was that was coaching pimps to keep them from getting caught trafficking little girls. I rather doubt that many 13-year-olds will be walking the streets because they would stand out as underage.

  4. That coaching is already illegal under local anti-pimping statutes. If it is interstate, it may be illegal under interstate sex trafficking statutes. Use those.

    That is different from requiring backpage and InstaPundit and everyone else to censor things. Heck, on my old blog I used to let people post, and I then came in when I had time and moderated it. Under this sort of law, and the way prosecutors can twist "knowingly" and "recklessly," I'd have felt it necessary to pre-censor, which would greatly have hindered the growth of my online community.

    Also, how long before we can no longer find guns on I recently got a nice rifle there. Craigslist won't allow them to be advertised AFAIK. Facebook won't. Amazon won't. This law may be the first step down a slippery slope that will end really important freedoms. Some slippery slope arguments are just rhetoric, but this one is not.

    This is a classic case of there being a problem, and attempting to solve it by creating a different, very dangerous problem. Even worse, just as conservatives are facing censorship on platforms, this is taking away one of our arguments against censorship.

    I suspect that if the founders had foreseen online platforms, they would have included them in the First Amendment.

    As another commenter said, this is like blaming guns for gun violence" and justifying severe regulations that because "it's necessary".

  5. The problem is that no one seems to be aware of these anti-pimping laws at the federal level, or there would have been prosecutions.

    I moderate all comments here to keep out riff-raff, criminals, and copyright infringers. There are certain responsibilities we have to accept. Of course, if social media withered and died as a result, that would be feature not a bug.

  6. "Meanwhile, the big sites, the monopolies, will be able to raise their prices and pay censors, and can afford the lawyers to deal with the issue. It would be a classic case of regulation enabling monopolies."

    Yet Facebook and Twitter have been fighting this. They know the costs of moderation will be huge.

    The Framers believed in free speech, but this only prohibited prior restraint. You were still responsible for abuse of that right.

  7. Yes, but this is not punishing the people who are doing the bad acts, it is punishing innocents whose platforms it is using. Why do you want to do that? A

    And, while you may consider the end of social media to be a feature, not a bug, you are in a small minority. Facebook has allowed me to connect to many people I wouldn't have run into otherwise. One of those connections led to me being able to publish articles. Others are in the scientific field.

    You did not address my point that this will kill the little guys more than the big guys, and conservatives are the little guys. FB and Twitter and the like will survive, one way or the other. It is classic economic theory that regulation aids the incumbents and harms the upstarts, and this would be no different.

    It tends to be illegal to use interstate communications to commit a crime, which is what is going on here. That is one statute. Another is the Mann Act, although it is more limited.

    Finally, I consider my freedoms a lot more important than putting a small dent into prostitution. I am against prostitution, but I am not going to throw away important parts of society and freedom to end it, and I sure as heck am not going to jump into a censorship crusade - which you favor - when we conservatives are fighting for out political lives over censorship that is for "good causes" but is stopping our viewpoint from getting out.

  8. John: I want to make it harder for these monsters to do this. They will still look for victims to exploit, but make it harder to do. This is not censorship. It allows victims to sue pimps and their partners for damages.

  9. Clayton, I understand your motivation, and agree with it.

    However, the effect of this is censorship. It will cause anyone with a platform to face serious legal liability if they do not moderate stuff. Moderation is censorship. In practice, this will mean fewer sites with comment sections, and it will encourage the likes of Facebook and Twitter and YouTube to censor - it gives them even more excuse. It will even cause groups to try to trap conservatives with this law - the left is quite willing and able to put up fake prostitution ads in order to achieve that.

    What is already going on has been quite damaging to conservatives. Prager U cannot be read by young people because of viewpoint censorship. A lot of conservative figures are shadow-banned on Twitter, or worse.