Bi-Weekly Sexual Freedom Newsletter
Wednesday, January 20, 2021
Top Stories This Week
1. Woodhull’s fight to protect sex workers;
2. An explanation of Section 230;
3. Recent attacks on Internet freedom;
4. The new “War on Porn”;
5. The coup attempt at the Capitol;
6. Private censorship; and
7. Sex resolutions for 2021.
Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act and Woodhull’s Fight to Protect Sex Workers
In simple terms, 47 U.S.C. § 230, a provision of the Communications Decency Act, protects freedom of speech on the Internet. Under Section 230, online intermediaries that host speech are not legally responsible for the speech and actions of individuals on their platform. In so doing, Section 230 dis-incentivizes intermediaries from censoring content and promotes the First Amendment rights of Internet users.
As we know, online freedom of speech is central to the lives and livelihoods of many people, including sex workers. That is why we filed a federal lawsuit against the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia challenging the constitutionality of the Allow States and Victims to Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act of 2017 (“FOSTA”). And that is precisely why we firmly oppose repealing Section 230, an action which would further endanger sex workers.
To sign EveryLibrary’s petition to support Section 230, click here.
Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act (Electronic Frontier Foundation)
The Electronic Frontier Foundation highlights the importance of Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act: “Given the sheer size of user-generated websites (for example, Facebook alone has more than 1 billion users, and YouTube users upload 100 hours of video every minute), it would be infeasible for online intermediaries to prevent objectionable content from cropping up on their site. Rather than face potential liability for their users’ actions, most would likely not host any user content at all or would need to protect themselves by being actively engaged in censoring what we say, what we see, and what we do online. In short, CDA 230 is perhaps the most influential law to protect the kind of innovation that has allowed the Internet to thrive since 1996.” Read more.
Critics Warn Repeal of Section 230 “Would Be Devastating for Human Rights, Social Movements, and Marginalized People” (Common Dreams)
Jessica Corbett writes about the dangers posed by repealing Section 230: “Digital rights advocates and sex workers are among those speaking out against GOP Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell's attempt to tie House-approved $2,000 coronavirus relief direct payments to repealing Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act [...] Sex workers who have faced the consequences of Congress amending Section 230 are also expressing concern about the impacts of its full repeal. In 2018, Trump signed the Stop Enabling Sex Traffickers Act (SESTA) and the Allow States and Victims to Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act (FOSTA). As Common Dreams has reported, sex workers say SESTA/FOSTA has made them less safe—an anticipated impact that they warned federal legislators about before the package became law.” Read more.
The New War on Porn: How Moral Crusaders, Mainstream Media and Politicians Are Gunning for XXX (XBIZ)
Gustavo Turner explains the new “War on Porn”: “Adult content [is] now routinely described, in article after article and editorial after editorial, by both sensationalistic tabloids and supposedly liberal establishment papers as ‘a scourge’ (an outdated scolding word generally reserved for the discredited, ineffective ‘War on Drugs’), ‘a danger,’ ‘harmful,’ ‘exploitation,’ and ‘infestation.’ [...] This language and these notions are, of course, not new. They have been brewing for years—in some cases decades—in well-funded, religiously-motivated think tanks and lobbies. These groups literally have an agenda: to shut down, by whatever means necessary, online porn.” Read more.
More cops, fewer platforms: the risky fallout of the Capitol riot (ROAR)
David Renton discusses how we might respond to the white supremacist attempted coup: “The fallout of [January 6’s] events will continue to echo for months, perhaps years to come. For all their seeming partisan difference, the center-left and center-right of US politics have a shared response for dealing with the crisis: it is to demand a greater number of cops and the removal of the social media accounts of the worst perpetrators. But neither strategy is in the interests of the majority of Americans or in particular of the US left.” Read more.
For an additional perspective on the attempted coup,
Beyond Platforms: Private Censorship, Parler, and the Stack (Electronic Frontier Foundation)
Jillian C. York, Corynne McSherry, and Danny O’Brien discuss the recent private censorship decisions involving Parler: “The core problem remains: regardless of whether we agree with an individual decision, these decisions overall have not and will not be made democratically and in line with the requirements of transparency and due process. Instead they are made by a handful of individuals, in a handful of companies, the most distanced and least visible to the most Internet users. Whether you agree with those decisions or not, you will not be a part of them, nor be privy to their considerations. And unless we dismantle the increasingly centralized chokepoints in our global digital infrastructure, we can anticipate an escalating political battle between political factions and nation states to seize control of their powers.” Read more.
10 Sex Resolutions for 2021 (Rewire News Group)
Caroline Reilly shares 10 sex resolutions for 2021, including being more vulnerable during sex: “The last few years of my life have been hectic: juggling law school and a chronic illness, maintaining some semblance of a social life, and taking hot selfies for Instagram. Nurturing the kind of relationship that would allow for vulnerability in intimacy is not something I budgeted for. That is not to say I don’t love me some casual sex! I wouldn’t give up all that backseat head and all those first-date messy hookups for the world. But in 2021 I’d like to have more of the kind of sex where I can communicate easily about what gets me off: more sex with people who know my body well.” Read more.
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