Courts & Litigation Cybersecurity & Tech

DC Circuit Court Upholds but Narrows FOSTA

Gia Kokotakis
Friday, July 7, 2023, 3:40 PM
The court found that the Allow States and Victims to Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act is not overbroad or unconstitutionally vague.

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On July 7, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit ruled to uphold the Allow States and Victims to Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act of 2017 (FOSTA). According to the decision, § 2421A(a) of FOSTA makes it a felony to “own, manage, or operate” an interactive computer service “with the intent to promote or facilitate the prostitution of another person.” (Emphasis added.) FOSTA also holds the providers of the above-mentioned computer services liable in civil and criminal actions for any third party content they publish that violates the Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000

Affirming the lower court’s ruling, the D.C. Circuit court found that neither  § 2421A of FOSTA  nor its amendments to the Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000 violate the U.S. Constitution (specifically the First and Fifth Amendments). The court also determined that FOSTA is not overbroad if a key provision (the phrase “promote or facilitate”) is read in a criminal law context, thus narrowing the statute. According to the court, “When read that way…FOSTA does not target advocacy, but instead is narrowly tailored to target ‘services that are owned, operated, or managed with the intent to aid, abet, or assist’ acts of prostitution.”

You can read the decision here or below:

Gia Kokotakis was an intern at Lawfare and is a senior at Georgetown University, where she studies government, French, and Jewish civilization. She received an Attestation d’Études Politiques from Sciences Po Lyon in May 2023.

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