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Facebook’s Sandberg backs controversial online sex trafficking bill

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Facebook's Sandberg backs controversial online sex trafficking bill

Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook’s chief operating officer, voiced her support on Monday for controversial legislation aimed at cracking down on sex trafficking on internet platforms.

“We all have a responsibility to do our part to fight this. That’s why we at Facebook support efforts to pass amended legislation in the House that would allow responsible companies to continue fighting sex trafficking while giving victims the chance to seek justice against companies that knowingly facilitate such abhorrent acts,” Sandberg wrote in a Facebook post.

Her comments come as House lawmakers prepare to vote this week on the Allow States and Victims to Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act (FOSTA), which amends Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act — a provision that prevents technology companies from being held liable for content users post on their platforms.

If FOSTA passes, it would make it easier to sue companies for content that facilitates sex trafficking.

The legislation has divided tech companies and their lobbying groups in Washington, D.C. Groups like TechFreedom, startup advocacy group Engine and others voiced their opposition last week to the version of FOSTA that Sandberg is supporting.

They had supported the original version of FOSTA, but lawmakers have proposed combining it with the Senate’s version of the legislation, the Stop Enabling Sex Traffickers Act. The latter bill has garnered strong opposition from groups like TechFreedom and Engine, who worry it could erode liability protections for tech companies, which they see as essential to a free and open internet.

Sandberg, however, doesn’t see it that way.

“Facebook is committed to working with … with legislators in the House and Senate as the process moves forward to make sure we pass meaningful and strong legislation to stop sex trafficking,” she said.

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