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Free Expression

Written Submission of CDT for a Hearing on Domestic Minor Sex Trafficking

CDT submitted these written comments in conjunction the House Judiciary Subcommittee's hearing on child sex trafficking.  CDT agree that such trafficking is a horrific crime and we welcome the Subcommittee’s focused attention to the issue.

We understand that the Subcommittee is particularly concerned about the fact that advertisements for prostitution and child sex trafficking have appeared online on sites such as Craigslist. Some state Attorneys General have called on Craigslist to remove its "adult services" category, and that site has recently taken the category off of its U.S.- based pages.

The focus of our comments today is to provide a context for the Subcommittee’s consideration of the issue of online hosting of illegal third party content. We first describe how speech is hosted online, and then explain the longstanding statutory protections from liability afforded to online "intermediaries" such as Craigslist for content posted by others and the importance of those legal protections to innovation and freedom of speech.