Yesterday the Senate Commerce Committee voted unanimously to approve the Stop Enabling Sex Trafficking Act (SESTA). The bill faces a hard road before it could reach a full congressional vote, and tech companies as well as some anti-trafficking groups have major concerns about the possible consequences of this going into effect as it is currently written. The Internet Association and big tech companies have been staunchly opposed
to the bill. SESTA would remove Section 230 protections which currently prevent sites from being prosecuted for illegal user content, and instead make it possible to hold them legally responsible for illegal user posts. While this may seem perfectly reasonable on the surface, the sheer amount of data that gets posted online everyday makes it impossible for companies to have actual people read and interpret every post in order block illegal content. The only way to do this is to use automated filters and since these filters don't have the ability to interpret nuance or make inferences companies will most likely err on the side of caution and wind up filtering out perfectly acceptable content. Anti-trafficking groups are afraid this could go as far as blocking cries for help from the very victims they are trying to protect. Consequences could disproportionately affect small companies and non-profit organizations who don't have the same resources as the tech giants.