FOSTA: Rumors of Trouble Ahead

I do not ordinarily like to deal in rumors. Doing so is dangerous. It is also an easy way to make a fool out of ones self. But at this time, I feel as though I do need to address some recent rumors that I have heard. This is one of those “better safe than sorry” situations.

The rumors are thus: A few US Attorneys are preparing to start making use of the FOSTA/SESTA law to go after our community. When, where, and how are unclear, but there does seem to be a storm on the horizon.

The FOSTA legislation was passed without any sort of “grace period” in place. The law itself stated that it would be effective immediately upon signing. As of this time, there is no recorded use of this law. Yet. While the law may be in place, no prosecutors or law enforcement agencies have seen fit to make use of it. The websites that shut down following the passage of FOSTA did so on their own accord (except BackPage, which would have been shutdown even without FOSTA). But so far, our community has actually been left alone.

Why? Frankly, I don’t rightly know. Perhaps prosecutors felt that the chaos the ensued was so disruptive as to be just as effective as using the law. Or they were waiting for legal challenges (which are ongoing) to be dealt with before making use of the law. Or perhaps they are just being patient and waiting for our community to settle down into new places that they can effectively use the law to shut down.

Regardless of why we haven’t seen the law used yet, it is only a matter of time. The current Presidential Administration is heavily influenced by the political/moralistic wing of Conservative Christianity. They are responsible for suggesting many of the nominees for judicial and prosecutorial positions at the Federal level. It would be no surprise to me that such appointees would be morally opposed to Consensual Transactional Sex, sex workers, and clients. Chances are that there are a few that are just itching to come after us.

The rumors I have heard have come to me from sources within the legal and law enforcement communities. They have heard that there are a few prosecutors who are ready to start making use of FOSTA, despite the ongoing legal objections.

What will this mean? It could very well mean attacks on the websites—both old and new—that we are using in our community. This means both dedicated CTS sites and mainstream social media sites.

I think one of the first targets will be the large social media websites. How long does anyone think Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, or Snapchat will resist against an attack concerning our community? These companies certainly have the power and resources to fight, but will they be willing to stand up for “whores and perverts”? Because that is how we, as a community, will be described.

Some of our dedicated sites will be able to avoid direct attacks, at least at first, because they are based overseas. But that does no mean that the government won’t work to restrict or eliminate access to those sites, regardless of Free Speech objections.

What do we do?

Well, we have to fight. When this happens, give some money to those groups that will be fighting in court. They will need help.

Protest. March. Gather. Keep up the fight.

And go around the law. Some might be comfortable with breaking the law publicly, but many are not. But that doesn’t mean they have to disappear from the internet. There are ways to have a FOSTA proof website. Do it. And then find FOSTA resistant websites that are willing to advertise your personal website. It can be done. It must be done.

Keep in touch. Share information. Do not go quietly into the night. Get involved. Contribute to those who are fighting back.

There is no way to tell when this fight will heat up. But chances are it is coming. Which means it will be more important than ever for everyone to get into the fight.

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