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Sex Trafficking Bill Shuts Down Craigslist’s Personals Section

Friday Apr 13th, on Sex Crimes |

Sex trafficking can result in very serious criminal charges and it is taken very seriously by lawmakers. In fact, just recently, in an effort to fight sex trafficking, Congress passed a law that could result in many more people being charged with criminal offenses related to sex trafficking.

If you are facing accusations in connection with trafficking offenses under this broad new law, it is imperative that you get help from an Albany sex crimes attorney to protect your future.

The law that was passed by Congress is so broad that it ultimately ended up forcing Craigslist to shut down its online personal ads within the United States.  While a message on the website indicates that Craigslist is hopeful that it will eventually be able to bring back its service, the broad nature of the new law means that doing so could put those who operate or host the site at risk of prosecution.

New Law Imposes Penalties Against Sites Facilitating Online Sex Trafficking

The new law that was passed by Congress imposes punishment upon any person or website that helps to facilitate online sex trafficking. Because Craigslist was not able to be certain that its personals section would be completely free of posts that could be viewed as facilitating sex trafficking, the website was forced to shut down its decades old personals site.

While the link to the Craigslist personal section is still up, there are no more personal ads displayed. Instead, there is a statement on the website indicated that “US Congress just passed HR 1865, 'FOSTA', seeking to subject websites to criminal and civil liability when third parties (users) misuse online personals unlawfully. Any tool or service can be misused. We can't take such risk without jeopardizing all our other services, so we are regretfully taking Craigslist personals offline.”

The new law, called FOSTA, directly counters existing provisions of the Communications Act of 1934. Previously, the Communications Act had been interpreted to protect websites from being held liable for the actions of site users. In other words, if someone posted something on a website – like posting a personal ad on Craigslist that facilitates sex trafficking – the site creators and those hosting the site couldn't be held responsible for what that poster did.

FOSTA, however, has made clear that the Communications Act was not intended to be utilized by websites that promote prostitution to avoid consequences by claiming they couldn't be held responsible for the actions of their site users. If a website promotes prostitution, anyone who operates that site could now face a 10-year prison term.

This is obviously a very serious penalty and web operators face significant risks. An Albany sex crimes attorney can provide help to those who have been accused of promoting sex trafficking or who are otherwise charged with committing any type of sexual offense. If you have been accused of wrongdoing, give us a call today to find out about the assistance that our legal team can offer.

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