FOSTA For Nonprofit Groups Bill Quietly Passes House Wednesday

WASHINGTON, D.C.—Ann Wagner, the United States House Representative from Missouri who was the main force behind FOSTA, the “sex trafficking” bill that was signed by Donald Trump—and that sex workers say has made their lives more dangerous—has a new bill that would allow nonprofit groups as well as banks and law enforcement to share private financial information in the interest of combatting sex trafficking.

Wagner’s little-heralded bill, known as the Empowering Financial Institutions to Fight Human Trafficking Act, quietly passed the House on Wednesday—sailing through without much attention as the Brett Kavanaugh hearing occupied the media and public imagination. The bill, HR 6729, passed by a 297-124 vote, with 202 Republicans voting in favor and only 29 against.

Democrats who voted were split equally 95-95.

One of the Republicans who voted against the bill, Justin Amash of Michigan, blasted the bill on his Twitter account calling HR 6729, “a disguised effort to expand the #PatriotAct. GOP leaders put ‘Fight Human Trafficking’ in the title to conceal the bill’s true purpose: to give the government more power to unconstitutionally spy on law-abiding Americans without a warrant.”

Like FOSTA, the bill could have a disproportionate impact on sex workers an the adult industry, who could have their financial information shared and exposed in the guise of combatting “sex trafficking.” In fact, according to Adam Brandon of the Libertarian site Freedom Works, the law could even lead to “increase(d) warrantless surveillance of Americans through ‘information sharing’ programs.”

All of those possible outcomes of the law, could directly affect the adult industry, according to Elizabeth Nolan Brown, writing on the site Reason

“Allowing—or demanding—information sharing between banks, cops, and nonprofits that work with sex workers could go a long way toward not just shuttering individual sex worker bank accounts but facilitating money-laundering charges against any website that allows ‘escort’ ads or otherwise enables communication that connects sex workers and clients,” Brown wrote.

The bill must now go to the Senate, with no vote yet scheduled in that legislative body.

Photo by Official White House / Wikimedia Commons Public Domain