×

21st Century Fox Backs Sex Trafficking Bill Opposed by Major Internet Firms

WASHINGTON — 21st Century Fox threw its support behind legislation to revise telecommunication law to ensure that it does not shield websites that promote or advertise sex trafficking.

Major internet companies oppose the legislation, called the Stop Enabling Sex Traffickers Act, arguing that even though they support its intent, it is too broadly written. The bill creates new legal liability for Internet companies whose sites “knowingly facilitate” sex trafficking through content on their platforms.

But 21st Century Fox expressed its support in a letter to co-sponsors Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) and Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.).

“As a global multi-media company that provides consumers the world over with groundbreaking news, sports and entertainment programming, we have a vested interest in a strong and vibrant internet ecosystem that promotes free speech and the equal exchange of ideas,” wrote Chip Smith, Fox’s executive vice president of global public affairs. “At the same time, we believe that everyone that does business in this medium has a civic responsibility to help stem illicit and illegal activity. While it is impossible to formulate laws to govern every possible situation, your legislation is a rational and measured effort to deal with a tragic and pernicious problem that is global in scope.”

The move is significant in that major Hollywood studios long have pressed Google and other major internet companies to take greater steps to monitor their websites to root out piracy. In his letter, Smith dismissed concerns that the legislation would be an overreach.

“It is unfortunate and alarming that critics of your bill would resort to hyperbole and scare tactics, arguing that passage of the Stop Enabling Sex Traffickers Act will signal the demise of free speech and innovation on the internet,” he wrote. “Thankfully, those critics, influential as they may be, do not speak for the entire internet community.”

At the time the legislation was introduced last month, The Internet Association, which represents companies like Google, Facebook and Amazon, said the legislation “is overly broad and will be counterproductive in the fight to combat human trafficking.”

Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act has generally shielded internet firms from civil and state criminal liability for content posted by users, but their Washington lobby fears that the legislation would diminish those protections. Internet firms also say that it is already possible under current law for authorities to prosecute those who engage in online sex trafficking.

The Internet Association also argued that the legislation “would create a new wave of frivolous and unpredictable actions against legitimate companies rather than addressing underlying criminal behavior.”

“Furthermore, it will impose new, substantial liability risks for companies that take proactive measures to prevent trafficking online, hampering the ability of websites to fight illegal activity. The bill also jeopardizes bedrock principles of a free and open internet, with serious economic and speech implications well beyond its intended scope.”

The Senate Commerce Committee will hold a hearing on the legislation on Tuesday.

More Politics

  • Pete Buttigieg Show Business Donations

    Mayor Pete Buttigieg Is Totally Up for Booking Phish for His Inauguration

    Mayor Pete Buttigieg’s campaign seems to be going Phish-ing… in the best possible sense. (Unless you just hate the band Phish so much there is no best possible sense.) The Democratic presidential candidate has previously indicated his love for the group, and when a reporter suggested Phish play at his theoretical swearing-in festivities in 2021, [...]

  • National Enquirer - Jeff Bezos

    Hudson Media CEO James Cohen Purchases the National Enquirer

    Hudson Media’s CEO James Cohen announced Thursday that he will purchase the National Enquirer as well as American Media’s other tabloids, the Globe and the National Examiner. With the purchase of the National Enquirer, which Cohen reportedly bought for $100 million, he plans to strengthen their collaborative efforts, documentary shows, weekly podcasts, and theme parks. [...]

  • Donald Trump

    HBO Fires Back at Trump's 'Game of Thrones'-Inspired 'No Collusion' Tweet

    HBO is firing back at President Donald Trump after he sent another “Game of Thrones”-inspired tweet in response to the release of a redacted version of special counsel Robert Mueller’s report on the Russia investigation. “Though we can understand the enthusiasm for ‘Game of Thrones’ now that the final season has arrived, we still prefer [...]

  • Mueller Report Released: Networks Cut the

    Networks Curb Their Enthusiasm, William Barr Flexes as Mueller Report Goes Public

    The run-up to Attorney General William Barr’s news conference regarding the release of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s report on the conduct of President Donald Trump suggested it was just one component part of a busy news day, something close to business as usual. And the broadcast — in which Barr stormily defended the President as [...]

  • Mueller Report: Redacted Version of Trump

    Mueller's Report Details Possible Trump Obstruction but Reaches No Conclusion

    WASHINGTON — Special counsel Robert Mueller’s report on the Russia investigation leaves open the question of whether President Donald Trump committed obstruction of justice, making clear that Trump was not exonerated. That was one of many takeaways after a redacted version of the highly anticipated document was released to the public on Thursday, captivating Congress, [...]

  • Attorney General Says Mueller Report Redactions

    Attorney General William Barr Defends Trump, Says Mueller Report Redactions Will Be 'Limited'

    WASHINGTON — Attorney General William Barr, in a press conference in advance of the release of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s report, said that the redactions will be limited. But speaking to reporters on Thursday, Barr also offered what amounted to a defense of President Trump’s conduct as Mueller’s investigation unfolded, in what Democrats and other [...]

  • Feu cath'drale Notre Dame de Paris.

    Disney Pledges $5 Million to Help Rebuild Paris' Notre-Dame Cathedral

    The Walt Disney Co. has joined a number of other companies in pledging $5 million towards the reconstruction of Notre-Dame, the iconic Paris landmark damaged this week by a massive fire. Disney CEO Bob Iger said the cathedral, which featured in the company’s 1996 animated adaptation of Victor Hugo’s “The Hunchback of Notre Dame,” was [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content