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In the end, SESTA is a dangerous bill that will have implications for both sex workers and the tech sector, advocates say, beyond what has happened so far—and all before Trump could even put pen to paper.
And, they add, the devastating impact SESTA will have on the sex work industry could have been avoided if the very people who pushed this legislation brought sex workers to the table in the first place.
For sex workers, watching websites serving as their main source for work close because of government action is nothing new.
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Sex workers who have been kicked off those platforms are now being pushed into physical, more criminalized spaces—such as truck stops, street corners, and so-called red-light districts—where police may be patrolling and doing sting operations. News by email that, although the company is based in Singapore, “we still need to follow American laws due to the fact that many of our customers are from there.” “That being said,” the spokesperson continued, “we cannot comment more other than the fact that we can’t afford to run this site the way it is and shutting down all the discussion and communication tools here. How this legislation will affect the sex work industry going forward is still open to question, experts say.
(Survivors Against SESTA has put together a rolling list of tech tips on how sex workers can protect themselves online in a post-SESTA world, including how to self-censor on social media, consolidate and transfer your information to safer online platforms, and turn off your phone’s location services and GPS.) “It’s really a scary situation that is going to affect the most marginalized of sex workers the most intensely,” Holloway told Rewire. With the exception of Craigslist, Reddit, Google Drive (which is now deleting “explicit content”), and Microsoft (which altered its terms of service), most of the sites that have taken preemptive measures in response to SESTA are comparatively small.