Why SESTA Matters To All of Us

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Stop Enabling Sex Traffickers Act (SESTA) sounds like something we should all support, right? Not really. It only sounds good on its face, but if passed it could cause problems for anyone and everyone who uses the internet and ultimately may silence the very voices it claims to protect. This is why we all need to understand it and make sure our members of congress are aware of our views on the bill.


Current Law


  • Communications and Decency Act (CDA) encourages websites, or platforms, to report cases of possible trafficking to law enforcement.

  • Protects websites from civil litigation under Section 230 which states, in part, “No provider or user of an interactive computer service shall be treated as the publisher or speaker of any information provided by another information content provider” (47 U.S.C., 230(c)(1)).

  • Section 230 protects free speech online, encourages sharing of ideas and information which is critical to internet growth and our democracy.

  • Section 230 does not provide immunity for platforms in federal prosecutions that the platform knowingly advertised sex trafficking or that they financially benefiting from such ads.

  • Courts have allowed civil claims to made against platforms that have had a direct hand in the harmful content.  



What SESTA Intends To Do 


  • Make it harder for sex traffickers to advertise on various internet platforms (Facebook, Twitter, YouTube).

  • Make it possible for states to prosecute internet platforms for content their users create on the platform.

  • States will be able to make their own laws concerning platform content and liability making it difficult for platforms and users to function under differing laws from 50 different states.   



Why SESTA is Dangerous  


  • Focuses on internet platforms and free speech online rather than individuals responsible for sex trafficking.

  • Makes the current federal law for prosecuting sex traffickers more vague, allowing juries and courts to not prove that the platform knew that sex trafficking existed on their platform but that the platform should have known.

  • Would open the door for platforms to engage in private censorship out of fear of potential litigation which ultimately limits the user's freedom of speech.

  • Will silence the victims of online sex traffickers by limiting the online resources they use to reach out for help.

  • Will force victims into street-based trafficking which is more dangerous to the victim than online trafficking.

  • Will discourage the platforms from reporting cases of possible trafficking for fear of criminal or civil prosecution.


If SESTA passed it will impact every single user of the internet. Indivisible Rapid City, Queer South Dakota, a member of both Indivisible Rapid City and National Organization of Women, South Dakota Chapter, and a representative of Electronic Frontier Foundation visited with Mark, field director at Senator Thune's office yesterday. Senator Thune is the chairman of the Senate Committee of Commerce, Science and Transportation which is currently reviewing SESTA. Mark advised us that Senator Thune is not in support of the bill in its current form. 


Now is the time to let Senator Thune know how you feel about this bill. You can do this by contacting any of his offices, sending a message using resist-bot, e-mailing him, or signing this online petition 



Additional information can be found in the resources listed below.  









































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