Wash. law online sex trafficking law to be struck

Published on NewsOK Modified: December 7, 2012 at 7:44 pm •  Published: December 7, 2012
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SEATTLE (AP) — A Washington state law aimed at battling online sex trafficking is likely to be struck down after state Attorney General Rob McKenna declined to continue a legal fight over the measure in federal court.

McKenna's office said Friday that it will not continue its defense of Engrossed Senate Bill 6252, one of several measures written by lawmakers earlier this year to combat online sex trafficking. Gov. Chris Gregoire signed the bill, aimed at online classified site Backpage.com, into law in March.

The law was challenged by Backpage.com and the Electronic Frontier Foundation, an internet advocacy group.

In July, U.S. District Judge Ricardo Martinez issued a temporary injunction blocking the law from taking effect. The settlement this week paves the way for the block to become permanent.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation sued on behalf of online library Internet Archive, arguing that targeting Internet service providers was unconstitutional and violated federal law. Backpage.com sued separately.

The organization said the Washington Legislature passed the law "despite its obvious potential to curtail legitimate speech."

For example, the vague and overbroad statute 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," the organization said in a statement.

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