ROUGE, LA – Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry has joined a bipartisan
group of 47 state attorneys general in urging Congress to amend the
Communications Decency Act so state and local law enforcement are able to take
action against criminal actors online.
The Communication Decency Act of 1996 (CDA) was designed to encourage the growth of the internet by promoting free expression, particularly on online message boards. Congress intended to provide immunity to internet companies from inappropriate posts of individuals.
However, due to a misinterpretation of Section 230 of the Act, some federal court opinions have interpreted it so broadly that individuals and services knowingly aiding and profiting from illegal activity have evaded prosecution.
“Judicial overreach has jeopardized the safety of our families and provided safe harbor to online criminals,” said General Landry. “So I hope Congress will heed our calls and take firm action to ensure that we may protect the public.
To make clear that the CDA’s immunity covers enforcement of federal or state sex trafficking laws, President Donald Trump signed into law the “Stop Enabling Sex Traffickers Act” and “Allow States and Victims to Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act.” Unfortunately, the problems involving social media and other internet platforms extend beyond sex trafficking and includes all kinds of criminal activity including black market opioid sales and identity theft.
In petitioning Congress, General Landry and his colleagues explained that Section 230 expressly exempts prosecution of federal crimes from the safe harbor, but “addressing criminal activity cannot be relegated to federal enforcement alone simply because the activity occurs online… Attorneys General must be allowed to address these crimes themselves and fulfill our primary mandate to protect our citizens and enforce their rights.”
A copy of the letter from the Attorneys General of Louisiana, Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, D.C., Florida, Georgia, Guam, Hawaii, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Puerto Rico, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, and Wisconsin may be found in the More Resources box on top right of this page.