Professor Juana María Rodríguez talks sex work’s history and the internet’s futureHistorians in the News
tags: Internet, Mexico, sex trafficking, sex work
What do the internet and 19th-century sex work have in common? Answer: an untraced history of criminalization in the sex industry that has now resulted in the censorship of online sexually graphic content.
Under the Stop Enabling Sex Traffickers Act, or SESTA, which was signed into law just last year, website publishers are held liable for sex trafficking content on their browsers, platforms, forums, channels and media outlets. This government regulation encourages publishers to screen, filter and monitor the content that passes through their data engines so that they are not prosecuted for allowing any sex-trafficking-related activity on their sites. Many of the issues with this law lie in its drawing of exaggerated connections between what is sex exploitation versus simply what is sexual content.
The negative repercussions of this act as this anti-sex-trafficking legislation have encroached upon other areas of the internet that harbor sexually charged media and sex-related content. It is for this reason that researchers at UC Berkeley, such as professor Juana María Rodríguez, have begun to investigate the history of sex work regulation so as to better inform our lawmaking decisions on these topics.