Craigslist announced on Friday that it’s shutting down its personal ad section.
The global classified ad site made its decision in response to Congress passing the Allow States and Victims to Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act of 2017 (FOSTA), which makes websites liable for facilitating sex trafficking.
“US Congress just passed HR 1865, ‘FOSTA’, seeking to subject websites to criminal and civil liability when third parties (users) misuse online personals unlawfully,” Craigslist said in a statement on its site.
“Any tool or service can be misused. We can’t take such risk without jeopardizing all our other services, so we are regretfully taking Craigslist personals offline. Hopefully we can bring them back some day.”
Websites held accountable
The measure -- which was approved by both chambers of Congress -- was passed by the Senate on Wednesday after the House approved it last month. President Trump is expected to sign it into law as soon as this week.
The legislation would create an exception to Section 230 of the 1996 Communications Decency Act, which would clear the way for websites to be targeted with legal action for enabling prostitution and sex trafficking.
It would also "enable state law enforcement officials, not just the federal Department of Justice, to take action against individuals or businesses that violate federal sex trafficking laws."
Those in support of the legislation say it will help curb the problem of online sex trafficking. However, numerous tech companies argue that the bill is a form of censorship.
‘Significant unintended consequences’
Last year, 10 tech trade groups co-authored a letter condemning the bill. The groups said the amendment would invite “significant unintended consequences” and create legal ambiguity that would have a "chilling effect."
"Platforms will err on the side of extreme caution in removing content uploaded by their users, while cutting back on proactive prevention measures," they wrote.
In a separate letter, the Consumer Technology Association (CTA) argued that bad actors "could easily escape by changing their URL address or relocating abroad."
"We urge Congress to take a narrow approach that directly targets bad actors,' the CTA said. "Specifically, Congress should urge the Department of Justice to aggressively use its powers to identify and prosecute the limited number of rogue websites that are violating the law."
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