For press inquiries, contact Ariela Moscowitz: Ariela@dswork.org | 512-521-3009

Senators Merkley and Sasse Introduce Bill That Infringes on Privacy Rights

NEWS RELEASE | FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Media Contact:
Ariela Moscowitz, director of communications
Ariela@DSWork.org |
(212)368-7874

Senators Merkley and Sasse Introduce Bill That Infringes on Privacy Rights

NEW YORK (Dec. 24, 2020) — U.S. Senators Jeff Merkley (D-OR) and Ben Sasse (R-NE) introduced the Stop Internet Sexual Exploitation Act (SISEA) last week. They claim that the bill’s purpose is to protect children, who cannot consent, and adults who have not consented to the sharing of pornographic images of them online. However, forty-six states and Washington, D.C. have anti-revenge porn laws in place and federal law prohibits the production, distribution, importation, reception, or possession of any image of child pornography. This bill is unnecessary and infringes on the rights and income of adults who engage in sex work consensually.

SISEA is like other misguided initiatives such as the EARN IT ACT and SESTA/FOSTA. Proponents of these laws argue that they combat human trafficking, although the laws, as written, fail to punish traffickers. Instead, they undercut the most crucial statute protecting freedom of speech on the internet (Communications Decency Act 230) and endanger the safety, health, and human rights of consensual sex workers and trafficking victims. Far from being a tool to combat sexual exploitation, SESTA/FOSTA ultimately forced websites to close, endangering sex workers and leading to their increased exploitation and financial desperation.

A recent barrage of anti-sex policies, including Instagram’s changes to its terms of service, threatens free speech and harms sex workers. Decriminalize Sex Work’s legal director Melissa Broudo explained, “There is a clear, consistent, and targeted attack on sex workers online under the guise of protecting women and ensuring safety; ironically, all of these measures will ultimately harm those who are the most marginalized. They all fail to target actual trafficking, but instead seek to censor and obstruct people’s ability to work independently and safely.”

Merkley and Sasse claim that this bill is about privacy, but it requires individuals to volunteer sensitive information. The bill calls for people who do not want their pornographic content posted online to enter identifying information into a database. Though the bill mentions that identifying information would be protected, it requires platforms that host pornographic content to cross check their information against the database, with no practical guidance on how to do this without breaching confidentiality. The consequences for an individual whose name is made public and associated with this database could be disastrous. Similarly, individuals who upload videos must trust that online platforms will protect their information.

The bill would create an impossible burden for most platforms. Smaller platforms, especially, will either shut down or ban all pornographic content completely, leaving sex workers who rely on these sites without income. SISEA was introduced as Congress announced Americans would receive $600.00, if they receive anything at all, which many argue does nothing to ease the financial devastation caused by COVID-19. This bill adds injury to insult for the most marginalized workers.

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Decriminalize Sex Work is a national organization pursuing a state-by-state strategy to end the prohibition of consensual adult prostitution in the United States. We work with local organizations, advocates, and lobbyists to build community support and convince legislators to stop prostitution-related arrests. Evidence shows that decriminalizing sex work will help end human trafficking, improve public health, and promote community safety.

Advocacy Group Launches Grants Program for Decriminalizing Prostitution

NEWS RELEASE | FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Media Contact:
Ariela Moscowitz, director of communications
Ariela@DSWork.org |
(212)368-7874

Advocacy Group Launches Grants Program for Decriminalizing Prostitution

NEW YORK (Dec. 1, 2020) – Decriminalize Sex Work (DSW) launched a $150,000 grants program to fund projects that will have a measurable impact on decriminalizing adult prostitution in the U.S. DSW runs the only grants portfolio that exclusively funds projects to decriminalize consensual adult prostitution in the U.S. Most grants will be directed to sex worker-led organizations working to change laws on the local and state levels.

DSW awarded grants to the following recipients:

Ceyenne Doroshow — Founder and executive director of Gays and Lesbians Living in a Transgender Society (G.L.I.T.S.) in NYC. G.L.I.T.S. addresses the stigmatization and criminalization of trans people due to laws prohibiting sex work. Ceyenne is also a prominent leader in the Black Trans Lives Matter movement and has been featured in national news outlets such as Vogue, GQ , and The Wall Street Journal.

The Ishtar Collective — Vermont’s first-ever anti-trafficking and sex-worker-rights organization run by current and former sex workers, industry allies and survivors of human trafficking local to Vermont.

SWOP Behind Bars — A national organization that assists currently and formerly incarcerated sex workers.

“In a grossly underfunded movement, $150,000 of grant money has the potential to make a big impact on decriminalizing consensual adult prostitution,” said Crystal DeBoise, DSW’s director of strategic partnerships. “Our grants program will support local, on-the-ground activists who share a mission to decriminalize sex work, promote health and safety, and fight human trafficking.”

Organizations that advocate for sex workers’ rights and practical solutions to ending human trafficking are gravely underfunded. The lack of funding is a result of stigma and misunderstandings about these populations. Also, a large share of the federal money allocated to stopping human trafficking is misused by law enforcement to arrest consensual adult sex workers and their clients.

DSW accepts grants on a rolling basis. Applicants should submit a letter of intent on DSW’s website.

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Decriminalize Sex Work is a national organization pursuing a state-by-state strategy to end the prohibition of consensual adult prostitution in the United States. We work with local organizations, advocates, and lobbyists to build community support and convince legislators to stop prostitution-related arrests. Evidence shows that decriminalizing sex work will help end human trafficking, improve public health, and promote community safety.