The new Federal law puts escort services that use the Internet services squarely in the sites of Federal investigators. The big sites like Backpage.com and Craigslist.com (casual encounters) have already shut down or been shut down. The Feds are now in the sex business and will be going full speed ahead after the sites that provide links for the prostitutes. The new law makes it a felony with a ten year penalty to “own, manage or operate an interactive computer service with the intent to promote or facilitate prostitution”.
If you go on the Internet and type in “Sarasota Escorts” there are still dozens of sites that the Feds will claim are “promoting” or “facilitating” prostitution. There are some real constitutional problems with the new law. As a sex crime lawyer and former Federal Prosecutor I see a number of huge defects in the law. First, it is an ex post facto law. It makes it a crime to have committed the acts before the law was passed. Secondly, the law is incredibly vague. For example, what does “facilitate” mean? Here in Sarasota, you will see in the near future arrests on both the local and Federal level targeting particularly the local escort sites as well as the State and National ones.
The better answer would have been to make prostitution legal. The new law is going to but the Federal agencies in the “prostitution” business. Hey guys, “there is a new sheriff in town” when it comes to prostitution, and it is the FBI. This is a terrible law. It will put women back on the streets and in the hands of pimps. This law is going to backfire and is a giant step backwards for our society. Prostitution is the world’s oldest profession. This will put women back in bars and back on the streets. We would be much better off with legalized houses of prostitution.
The new law can be challenged and will be. There is a First Amendment issue as well as an Ex Post Facto issue and both will be headed for the Federal Courts. I can’t wait to see how the Federal Courts deal with some of the deficiencies in the new law.