Andy Beshear

Beshear: Action Needed to Better Protect Kentuckians from Online Crimes

Attorney General Andy Beshear and 47 attorneys general this week urged Congress once again to amend the Communications Decency Act (CDA) to ensure state and local authorities are able to protect citizens from online crimes.

Beshear said the CDA needs to be clarified to provide local law enforcement the authority to stop companies that provide platforms that make illegal online activities, like identity theft, black market opioid sales and deceptive artificial technology, possible.

“The CDA was not intended to allow criminals to escape state and local prosecution. The law must change,” said Beshear. “Online criminals should never have a safe haven in our state or any other state.”

Beshear said the CDA was originally designed to encourage the growth of the internet by promoting free expression, particularly on online message boards. The act was intended to allow companies who sponsor message boards to remain immune to repercussions from inappropriate posts.

Beshear said the added language is needed following court opinions that have interpreted the act so broadly that individuals and services, which knowingly aid and profit from illegal online activity, have evaded prosecution.

In 2017, Beshear and state attorneys general first sought to amend the CDA to include “state, or territorial” language so attorneys general would be able to address more online crimes and protect citizens.

Beshear also called for the passage of federal legislation that amended the CDA. The “Stop Enabling Sex Traffickers Act” and “Allow States and Victims to Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act” (known as FOSTA-SESTA) was signed into law last year. The law made it clear that the CDA’s immunity does not apply to the enforcement of federal or state sex trafficking laws.

Beshear praised the passage for closing a loophole for online companies, such as Backpage, that profited from sex trafficking through online advertisements and message boards.

Unfortunately, crime occurring online does not stop at sex trafficking, Beshear said, and that is why today’s letter is being sent – because more changes are needed to Section 230 of the CDA.

Today’s letter states, “Attorneys general must be allowed to address these crimes themselves and fulfill our primary mandate to protect our citizens and enforce their rights.”

In April, Beshear also joined a 20-state coalition of attorneys general in filing an amicus brief urging the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit to uphold a lower court dismissal of a constitutional challenge to FOSTA.

Since taking office, Beshear has taken steps to increase human trafficking awareness and implemented strategies to hold accountable those who exploit children online.

On Saturday, Beshear announced through the work of his Cyber Crimes Unit, the arrest of four men caught in an online predator sting for numerous charges including human trafficking of a minor.

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