August 23, 2019
Next month, the DC Circuit Court of Appeals will hear the appeal of Woodhull Freedom Foundation et al v. The United States of America, a case that seeks to challenge the constitutionality of the Fighting Online Sex Trafficking Act (FOSTA). FOSTA modified the Communications Decency Act Section 230 to permit civil and criminal suits against third-party platforms/websites that promote or permit prostitution or trafficking. DSW, along with many other sex workers’ rights, civil liberties, and human rights organizations vehemently oppose this law. Woodhull Freedom Foundation’s initial challenge to FOSTA was denied in U.S. District Court in 2018 on the grounds of standing, and they have since filed this appeal. DSW General Counsel Melissa Broudo co-authored an amicus brief on behalf of a dozen allied organizations in support of Woodhull’s challenge to the law back in February of this year.
Plaintiffs are asking the court to issue a preliminary injunction and put a halt to future enforcement of FOSTA, meaning no one could be arrested and charged until the case is decided. The chilling effect is undeniable and has already threatened the livelihood of sex workers and pushed many to work in less safe conditions. This is a bad and dangerous law.