I am writing to you today about the bill being proposed by Rep. Wagner entitled “Allow States and Victims to Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act of 2017“.
This bill is a chilling act to suppress free speech among internet providers. While the intent may be good, the fallout is disasterous. The bill removes the need for a foundational legal requirement – mens rea, or “guilty mind” – from a provider who is found to have users who have uploaded or created child sex acts using the provider’s service. While child sex in all forms is absolutely abhorrent and wrong on every level, this proposed bill goes too far and removes the protections for providers from people abusing their services to facilitate illegal acts. You wouldn’t fine, or arrest the CEO of, Toyota if someone used their car in a murder, and so it makes no sense to do that for sites like Facebook, Google, and others if their users use their products to do illegal acts.
I urge you to uphold basic legal principles and what you know is right. Please stand against removing protections from third-party providers, and stand for the foundation of law that protects the innocent. Mens rea is a cornerstone of our legal system, and by disregarding that “for the children,” you chip away at fundamental protections for the innocent, and will ultimately do nothing except drive the guilty farther underground, out of the light where they can’t be found.
Please, do what’s right. Vote no on Rep. Wagner’s proposed bill, and stand for the rights of the innocent.