A new state law intended to root out online advertisements for underage sex has been blocked by a federal judge, fueling a growing national debate over whether internet companies should be forced to police what users post.
The law — signed by Gov. Chris Christie in May and slated to go into effect at the beginning of this month — is part of a crackdown on human trafficking. It makes it a first-degree crime to knowingly publish, disseminate or display an advertisement and any photographs promoting sex with a minor.
Backers of the measure said during legislative hearings it was needed to hold websites, particularly those that offer classified advertisements, responsible for perpetuating child sex abuse and underage prostitution.
But there’s a hitch: The entire effort might be illegal.
As nj.com reports, two web companies sued last month claiming the state law, while well-intentioned, violates a long-standing federal law that grants websites sweeping immunity from being held liable for the material people post online.
U.S. District Judge Dennis Cavanaugh temporarily blocked New Jersey’s law June 28, and the state faces a steep legal climb when oral arguments begin in Newark on Aug. 9. READ MORE ….
PHOTO: NJ Assemblywoman Valerie Vainieri Huttle, a driving force behind the state’s new human trafficking laws (COURTESY nj.com)