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Vol. 7 No. i (2019): Spring 2019

FOSTA: The Law Allowing States to Fight Online Sex Work

November 27, 2023


In April 2018, President Trump signed into law the politically popular bill, “Allow States and Victims to Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act.” The law, referred to in short as FOSTA, intends to eliminate online sex trafficking but instead forces already marginalized sex workers into even more vulnerable situations and makes it more difficult to locate and prosecute traffickers. Prior to FOSTA, § 230 of the Communications Decency Act of 1996 (CDA) protected internet service providers (ISP) from the liability of their users’ actions, including trafficking and prostitution. FOSTA no longer allows this protection for ISPs; in response, many ISPs like Reddit, Facebook, Tumblr, and Twitter have responded by removing sex workers’ safe means of advertisement and law enforcement’s easy access to traffickers and their victims. By rejecting the input of sex workers, legislators have designed a remarkably ineffective law. This paper illuminates the voices of sex workers, which have been politically ignored but provide powerful insight into the fight against sex trafficking.