Sunday, June 10, 2018
FOSTA consequences seem quiet right now but could erupt with a slippery slope for platforms; the "harmful to minors" concept seems expandable
Two months after Trump signed FOSTA into law, the news on it seems to dwindle, but a few contradictory pieces stand out.
A piece by Elizabeth Nolan Brown on 3-23-2018 in Daily Beast still warns that the law could end the web as we know it, primarily because of the “slippery slope” problem.
In the third paragraph from the end Brown makes the comparison to liability for promoting terrorism or weapons use, and many platforms have become pro-active on that point.
In fact, the whole “harmful to minors” concept makes more sense morally if it does include the issue of promoting violence or weapons use.
We’re facing a world in which some young adults go off the rails and social media may be a major influence. This may be as critical as the actual availability of weapons (which is arguably too easy, but that’s beyond this particular blog).
Back in February, Insider Source had reported that FOSTA really is narrow enough to allow startups to deal with it (better than SESTA, which is admits is too vague), but it’s not clear if the last minute changes to FOSTA added too much ambiguity, as EFF claims.
An article in The Hill (conservative) in late March, upping the ante on the importance of stopping trafficking as a policy priority, claimed that Cloud monitoring tools were readily available on the web even for startups. This sounds optimistic.
But we haven’t heard yet of major instances outside of the areas of personal hookups (the actions of Craigslist, Reddit, and a few other companies) where mass censorship has happened. But the downstream liability issue creep could indeed eventually determine who can easily speak on the web of the future.
An older article in Medium in January had tried to compare what FOSTA and SESTA purported to do legally. This may be out of date.