Congress determined that a free and open Internet required that the host of a site not be responsible for “third-party generated content.” Congress also realized — as the Village Voice has argued — that the Internet actually makes it a whole lot easier to catch predators and sex traffickers. Unlike underground or street prostitution, this activity occurs out on the open Web and is highly traceable by IP addresses and other means.
Ultimately, ending sex trafficking of minors is just not the best basis for developing good Internet policy. It is outlier behavior, and the very mention of its existence ends up paralyzing more rational debate and legislative specificity. In this case, it becomes an excuse to pile on a New York-based, gay-friendly, left-leaning publication with a fine history of investigative journalism.
Meanwhile, Village Voice Media may be correct in challenging a law that paralyzes the Internet, but its inability to find a business model that doesn’t depend on the adult sex industry is its own fault.
Craigslist voluntarily removed its own “adult” section when the arguments for maintaining it just became untenable. Village Voice Media was the beneficiary of all that adult content, and is now the bearer of the karma. This sort of content is not just unbecoming of an editorial group that prides itself on promoting ethics and social justice; it is hypocritical.
Related: PJ Lifestyle reviewed Rushkoff’s recent graphic novel Adolescent Demo Division here.