IBM Letter to House Judiciary Committee on Anti-Sex Trafficking Bill

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Washington, D.C. – IBM (NYSE: IBM) today sent the following letter to leaders of the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on the Judiciary:

December 12, 2017

The Honorable Bob Goodlatte
Chairman
House Judiciary Committee
2138 Rayburn House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515

The Honorable Jerrold Nadler
Ranking Member
House Judiciary Committee
2109 Rayburn House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515

Dear Chairman Goodlatte and Ranking Member Nadler,

I am writing on behalf of IBM to express our concerns about the FOSTA substitute that is scheduled for consideration by the House Judiciary Committee today.

IBM is appreciative of the Committee’s work to address the significant problem of the use of the Internet to facilitate sex trafficking. We have analyzed the FOSTA substitute and compared it to the Senate Commerce Committee-passed amendment to SESTA (amended SESTA). Our assessment is that the amended SESTA legislation would be more effective than the FOSTA substitute in deterring those who facilitate or assist sex trafficking on the Internet because the amended SESTA legislation goes farther in increasing civil liability risk to those who facilitate or assist in sex trafficking.

The degree of civil liability risk is a vital component to curtailing facilitation of sex trafficking on the Internet because this pernicious activity will not abate until its economic consequences are fully felt by those who help facilitate or assist it. In particular, the Senate bill clears up existing confusion about the scope of Section 230 immunity by clarifying that a civil action for damages brought under the federal sex trafficking law is not prevented by Section 230. Our understanding is that Section 230 has been used to bar victims from obtaining damages from perpetrators, but the FOSTA substitute does not address this problem. In addition, the Senate bill would empower State Attorneys General to enforce the federal sex trafficking civil damages statute, but the FOSTA substitute does not provide this authorization.

We thank you for your leadership on this important issue but encourage you to align the Committee’s legislation with the amended SESTA bill for the reasons stated above and because this would offer the fastest path to enactment of legislation to address this critical problem.

Best regards.

Sincerely,

Christopher A. Padilla
Vice President,
IBM Government and Regulatory Affairs

cc: Members of the House Judiciary Committee

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Media Contact:
Adam R. Pratt
Ph (202) 551-9625
arpratt@us.ibm.com

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