Engine's Statement on House Rules Committee Consideration of H.R. 1865

Following the announcement from the House Committee on Rules to consider H.R. 1865, the Allow States and Victims to Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act (FOSTA) on Monday, February 26th and the proposed amendment by Rep. Walters to include language from the Senate’s Stop Enabling Sex Traffickers Act (SESTA):

The following can be attributed to Engine Executive Director Evan Engstrom:

“We are strong supporters of the work Chairman Goodlatte has done to craft legislation that empowers both law enforcement and Internet companies to combat the scourge of online sex trafficking. The approach the House Judiciary Committee laid out in the version of FOSTA passed out of their Committee ensures that law enforcement has the tools to investigate and prosecute bad actors while clarifying that honest startups can engage in content moderation without fear of facing criminal liability or meritless lawsuits.

Attaching SESTA to FOSTA does not add anything that will make it easier for prosecutors to stop bad actors online. Rather, it merely increases the risk of unforeseen liability for startups that host user-generated content without the promise of any meaningful decrease in online sex trafficking. SESTA’s ambiguous liability standard may discourage internet platforms from taking voluntary steps to deal with bad behavior online, and it may expose startups to liability for hosting content that they don’t even know exists. We encourage the House to pass FOSTA as it’s currently written without including amendments that will only make it harder for startups to assist law enforcement in the fight against online trafficking. ”