A shameful exploitation of sex trafficking victims

Note: I sent this letter to the editor to the New York Times. See previous editorials here and here.

To the Editor:

Nicholas Kristof’s September 7 column is why we cannot have a reasonable discussion about criminal justice. If we extend Kristof’s logic, the real reason the American Civil Liberties Union supports free speech is because they support neo-Nazis, and the real reason Black Lives Matter advocates against violations of civil liberties is because they support rapists, murderers and drug runners. It is absurd.

Section 230 of the 1996 Communications Decency Act is not a “loophole.” It is a feature written by a shockingly forward-looking Congress. If the government could prosecute an interactive content provider (where content is created by users) like Backpage, Facebook, Twitter, Google or WordPress for user-created content, then that power will be abused to restrict more free speech.

Of course, the New York Times loves this, because it will stifle competition from citizen-journalists all over the Internet. The government loves this because politicians hate free speech and would love another tool to get interactive content providers to censor the great unwashed masses.

As for the defamatory claim that Google supports sex trafficking, Google engineers developed Spotlight, to find and identify victims of sex trafficking. Law enforcement in all 50 states now use the Google-built tool, which helped identify 2,000 sex traffickers and 5,000 victims of sex trafficking in one single year. Google is no friend of those who prey on children.

Both Kristof and the New York Times should apologize to Google for this smear. They should also apologize for exploiting the pain of sex trafficking victims to advance their campaign against free speech.