Ivanka Trump on Tuesday applauded lawmakers for their efforts on a pair of sex trafficking bills that have many internet platforms worried about the erosion of their broad legal protections from content posted by users.
The president’s daughter and senior adviser convened a meeting at the White House for lawmakers, advocates and representatives from the private sector to talk about the legislation aimed at cracking down on online sex trafficking.
“I have discussed these pieces of legislation with almost everyone in this room over the past several months and commend you on getting us where we are today,” Trump said. “On behalf of the president and administration, we want to thank all the members here today for your leadership and commitment to end the shameful and tragic crime of online sex trafficking.”
Last month, the House overwhelmingly passed the Allow States and Victims to Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act (FOSTA). The legislation, which includes language from a similar Senate bill, would make it easier to sue internet platforms for enabling sex trafficking on their sites.
It would carve out an exception to Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, which protects websites from legal liability for content posted by third parties.
Many internet companies worry that changing the law will upend the legal framework that they see as foundational to the internet.
Last week, a group of internet companies that includes Twitter and Yelp urged the Senate to make some last-minute changes to FOSTA before it comes up for a vote.
“Section 230 has not only enabled companies like ours to launch and grow, it has also made it legally feasible for us to contribute to the fight against criminal activity online,” the group wrote in a letter. “Any changes to these rules require careful consideration and an assessment of the impact they will have on law enforcement, victims, and our own content moderation and abuse detection activities.”
And rights groups like the ACLU and the Electronic Frontier Foundation have also come out against the legislation.
But it appears increasingly likely that the Senate will take up the bill in its current form in the coming days, pushing it closer to becoming law.
Lawmakers at the meeting on Tuesday like Rep. Ann Wagner (R-Mo.), Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) and Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) have all insisted that the legislation is crucial for cracking down on sex trafficking and have largely dismissed concerns from the internet platforms.
Also attending the meeting was Chris Padilla, IBM’s regulatory chief; Internet Association CEO Michael Beckerman; and White House legislative affairs director Marc Short.
“This legislation will be transformative in the fight against trafficking by giving state and local prosecutors the tools they need to hold websites accountable for facilitating prostitution and sex trafficking,” Wagner, who introduced FOSTA, said in a statement Tuesday afternoon. “It is a wake-up call that Congress never intended to create a system that allows businesses to commit crimes online that they could never commit offline.”