Lakeesha Harris on EARN It Act vs. Sex Worker Safety

Feb 25, 2022

There are many ways in which we acquiesce to power via surveillance. I mean…Black people have never existed in this country without the gaze of white people critiquing our bodies, overseeing our labor, and watching our finances. So it comes as little to no surprise — to me — that EARN IT has returned, like a familiar, ever evolving, political pandemic. Because what beats government overreach but more government overreach and better methods towards criminalizing people? Right?

Touted by proponents as a “new incentive” for the tech industry to tackle child sexual exploitation online, what it really does is plays to the need of conservative lawmakers to continued their assault on bodily autonomy and play to the game of body politics — a chess match where mostly white men see how far they can go in removing more rights and liberties today!

The EARN IT act is a continuation of FOSTA/SESTA, a law Donald Trump signed in 2018. Like EARN it is purposing, FOSTA/SESTA created an exception to Section 230 — meaning — website publishers would be responsible if users are found to be posting ads for criminal activity on their platforms. This led many online services used by sex workers and non-sex workers alike to quickly shut down or alter the way in which they include sex related content. Online sites such as Craigslist Personals section, Backpage, and OnlyFans have all been affected by these laws.

However, in the five years that FOSTA/SESTA has been the law of the land, it has NOT curbed human trafficking.

In fact, a report from the U.S. Government Accountability Office directly contradicts the notion of safety for trafficking survivors. In the years since FOSTA/SESTA has been in effect, they’ve only netted 11 criminal cases against those who control platforms in the online commercial sex market.

Out of 11, only 3 have been convicted, and it wasn’t for trafficking.

In all 11 cases, the charges are in fact money laundering and racketeering.

Tell me again how the Earn It Act will keep trafficking survivors safe?

While Congress rushes to pass yet another law limiting your privacy online, Sex Workers have been organizing to get lawmakers to reintroduce the Sex Worker Safety Act to study the impacts of FOSTA/SESTA before they write new legislation that is bound to fail to stop trafficking, hinder our pathways of survival and safety, block our money, and place us in jail.

It’s enough to make you holler — Make it make sense! Are lawmakers trying to keep people safe or are they trying to criminalize sex… even if it is consensual and between two adults?

Excerpted From: EARN IT V. Sex Worker Safety / Old Pro News

More About the EARN IT Act: Anti-exploitation bill advances in Senate despite free speech concerns / The Verge

Learn More: FOSTA SESTA / Hacking / Hustling

Here are some organizations that have publicly criticized EARN IT: American Civil Liberties Union, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, the Urban Justice Center, Hacking//Hustling, and Human Rights Watch. These are organizations are fighting for our civil liberties and free speech!