Heidi Tripp


The internet provided consensual sex workers with a sense of safety and community not available on the streets. Screening clients before meeting them, sharing information about dangerous clients, and finding work without relying on pimps turned a historically dangerous profession into a safer, more reliable way to earn a living.

Unfortunately, the internet also provided sex traffickers with a more efficient way to advertise sex trafficking victims without detection by law enforcement. Under Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, websites hosting advertisements of sex trafficking victims were often immune from liability. Section 230, which meant to promote free speech on the internet, repeatedly left these victims without remedy.

Congress recognized a need to hold someone responsible for online advertisements of sex trafficking victims. FOSTA/SESTA removed website immunity under Section 230 to encourage websites to diligently monitor and remove sex trafficking posts or otherwise be held responsible for facilitating the unlawful action. To avoid the work of monitoring content under FOSTA/SESTA, websites removed posting capabilities previously used by consensual sex workers. Congress failed to consider how the internet protects consensual sex workers and how this protection would be stripped from them in the wake of FOSTA/SESTA.

This Comment will argue consensual sex workers deserve protection under FOSTA/SESTA. Ultimately, this Comment will recommend that Section 230 immunity be reinstated and either enforced jointly with existing legislation or construed more narrowly. Under either recommendation, both sex trafficking victims and consensual sex workers will receive the protection they deserve.


To view the content in your browser, please download Adobe Reader or, alternately,
you may Download the file to your hard drive.

NOTE: The latest versions of Adobe Reader do not support viewing PDF files within Firefox on Mac OS and if you are using a modern (Intel) Mac, there is no official plugin for viewing PDF files within the browser window.