AP News Guide: Bill to fight online sex trafficking

NEW YORK (AP) — A 1996 law that shields online services from being liable for what their users do would be weakened by a sex-trafficking bill awaiting President Donald Trump’s signature.

The law is what allows Facebook, Google and other leading companies to provide communications services. A company that hosts blogs doesn’t have to worry about being sued for defamation, for instance, when a user posts nasty things about someone.

But the same provision has given classified-ad sites such as Backpage defense against accusations that their sites promote sexual exploitation of minors and prostitution. While Backpage’s founders are facing criminal charges, and authorities have seized the website’s domain name, it’ll still be tough for people to seek civil damages, because of the exemption.

Congress overwhelmingly passed legislation to change that.

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