After a challenge by the Internet Archive and EFF, Washington state officials dropped their defense of a law aimed at combatting online sex trafficking ads by targeting Internet service providers. SB 6251 was a vague and overbroad statute that threatened to impose felony liability not only on those directly engaged in illegal acts, but also on those who “indirectly” caused to be “disseminated” any “implicit” offers for commercial sex acts. That could potentially affect services that merely provide access to information, like web hosts, ISPs, or online libraries, impeding their ability to operate at all. Moreover, the statute directly conflicted with Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act (CDA 230), a federal law that bars states from holding online service providers responsible for the acts of their users. A permanent injunction blocking enforcement of the law was set for December 2012.
"The Internet Archive, as an online library, archives the World Wide Web and other digital materials for researchers, historians, and the general public," said Brewster Kahle, Digital Librarian and founder of the Internet Archive. "We strongly support law enforcement efforts to combat child sex trafficking, but this new law could endanger libraries and other entities that bring access to websites and user-generated content."