Technology

Jul 10, 2018

How a US law broke the internet (and what that means for Australia)

In theory, FOSTA-SESTA was intended to put an end to sex trafficking. In practice, it's effectively banned sex work and created dire concerns for internet freedoms around the world.

Liz Duck-Chong — Freelance writer

Liz Duck-Chong

Freelance writer

FOSTA-SESTA CENSOR

On March 21, the US Senate passed the firmly named Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act, commonly referred to as FOSTA. Built upon its predecessor, the Stop Enabling Sex Traffickers Act (SESTA), the bill amended Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act -- a small yet critical piece of legislation which stated that websites and internet service providers are not responsible for the third-party content on their platforms.

It was heralded as a new era in preventing the trafficking of children for sex in America. However, within days of passing it became clear that the bill would also have a vast and retroactive impact on internet freedom, and would have ramifications on a global level.

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