September 21, 2018

Statement from Donna Rice Hughes - NAFTA Language Threatens to Immunize Bad Actors

NAFTA Trade Agreement Language Could Once Again Immunize Bad Actors Who Knowingly Facilitate Sex Trafficking - Statement by Donna Rice Hughes, President of Enough Is Enough®

Great Falls, VA. – Language surreptitiously slipped into the NAFTA agreement by Big-Tech threatens to derail recent victories achieved on behalf of sex trafficking survivors in both the U.S. and in our neighboring countries of Mexico and Canada.

The historic and newly-enacted FOSTA-SESTA, overwhelmingly passed by Congress and signed into law earlier this year, clarified Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act (CDA) by no longer allowing websites who knowingly facilitate sex trafficking to be shielded from claims filed by child trafficking victims.

The implications of U.S. Trade Representative’s inclusion of Section 230-like language into the U.S-Mexico trade agreement could deal a devastating blow to sex trafficking survivors by immunizing the bad actors – the exact opposite outcome for which many have fought so hard to achieve. I urge members of Congress to implore the Administration to remove this language from NAFTA. We must keep the protections and legislative intent provided under FOSTA-SESTA intact.

The inclusion of this language in the trade agreement would be a slap in the face to trafficking survivors, their families, law enforcement and the countless anti-trafficking advocates and organizations who have served to bring a voice to this issue and seek justice. We simply cannot export sex trafficking immunities to our neighboring countries.

Enough is Enough, along with other organizations, sent a joint letter to Congress alerting members of this widespread concern as some Members may not be fully aware of the inclusion of the language in the NAFTA agreement.

FOSTA-SESTA fulfills a promise by then-candidate Trump, who in 2016 signed Enough Is Enough®’s Children’s Internet Safety Presidential Pledge in which he promised to advance public policies and provide law enforcement with the resources and tools needed to investigate and prosecute Internet crimes involving the sexual exploitation of children. The Pledge called out the need for Congress to amend section 230 of the CDA, which is exactly what FOSTA- SESTA accomplished.

Enough Is Enough® has been an outspoken advocate for the need of updated legislation since 2013 as it publicly played a key role joining the call of the National Association of Attorneys General (49 Attorneys General) on Congress to make a two-word amendment to CDA 230 which would enable state prosecutors to help fight child sex trafficking. That victory came in April of this year when FOSTA-SESTA was signed into law by President Trump.

FOSTA-SESTA affords trafficking survivors and state and local law enforcement the tools they need to successfully pursue civil and criminal actions against websites who have knowingly allowed for the buying and selling of women and children for sex online. Historically, websites have been shielded from state and local criminal and civil liability for hosting sex ads pointing to CDA Section 230, which has been used as a Trojan horse for blanket immunity from irresponsible and even criminal actions.

It is evident that the inclusion of Section 230-like language is the tech lobby’s strategy to undermine the provisions of FOSTA-SESTA. The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), who has been opposed to FOSTA-SESTA from the onset, was clear in its intent this past January when it said in a statement, "baking Section 230 into NAFTA may be the best opportunity we have to protect it domestically."

Enough Is Enough® calls on call concerned citizens to contact their Members of Congress and ask to have removed Section 230-like language from the NAFTA agreement.

?For the sake of all trafficking survivors and their families, let's not allow these underhanded attempts thwart the historic progress recently made, nor allow countless others to be victimized because this language was not retracted. We must continue to hold websites accountable for knowingly facilitating trafficking, and allow victims to seek justice. We simply will not stand for any attempt to undermine or threaten the dignity and well-being of our women and children.