Updates on SISEA or S.5054
As the 116th congress ended, bills that were pending consideration were dropped. Legislators must re introduce bills that lapsed when congress changed, and Senator Jeff Merkley has expressed their desire to re introduce SISEA.
Unfortunately, the new version may be drastically different, and even have a different title. Multiple organizations are meeting with Merkley to advise their office on the heinousness of this bill, and while his office has stated their new bill will protect online sex workers, we have no reason to trust that.
Keep an eye on our site and Twitter for updates, and lets hope for the best moving forward!
If you are interested you can still contact legislators with the information below.
What is SISEA/S.5054?
Senators Merkley and Sasse introduced the Stop Internet Sexual Exploitation Act (SISEA) or S.5054 which, if passed, will add regulations to the industry that will put consensual content creators out of work.
Why is SISEA bad?
There is a lot of good information about how this will hurt the industry. FSC shared a statement that is helpful in explaining the impact for people outside and inside the industry. There are also articles like this one from XBIZ reporter JC Adams.
Overall the bill will harm workers and make porn online illegal by over regulating the industry, forcing all sites that monetize pornography to shut down. The result will be a disproportionate impact on marginalized groups.
- Creates a DOJ database that would include any consensual content creators who requested removal of video for DMCA violation to add their name to a DOJ watch list. Thereby outing performers real identities, leading to further criminalization, harassment, and arrest which the sex work community is already disproportionately affected by.
- Further criminalizes sex work by subjecting all pornographic content to be monitored at great expense to consensual sex workers. The impact will be similar to SESTA/FOSTA which pushed record numbers of sex workers into risky street-based work where a disproportionate number of women, black, and/or trans individuals are arrested, murdered, or harassed.
- Increases criminalization of sex work by directing FTC to enforce requirements, creating justification for the already disproportionate arrest and harassment of women, black, and/or trans performers.
- Specifically targets pornographic sites which have far less non-consensual material than major sites like Facebook. Targets these sites in a way that will disproportionately impact independent business owners, and smaller sites who cannot afford the unequal requirements.
- Forces only pornographic sites, and any individuals who create and publish their own consensual pornographic sites to follow the insane requirement of a 24-hour hotline, and 2 hour removal window.
- Forces only pornographic companies & individuals who create and publish their own sites to invest or purchase software that for most of the consensual pornography industry is well beyond their ability, or budget.
What can we do?
We are currently working on a campaign to contact your personal representatives, which you can find here. If you have already called your representatives, you can contact Senator Merkley to let him know this bill will hurt workers because he is the most likely to hear us.
Please call his office, a phone call is the best way to have your voice heard. You can contact Senator Merkley right now to let him know how this bill will hurt you. Remember, you do not have to give your real name, feel free to use your stage name or pseudonym when leaving a message, or speaking with staff.
You can contact Merkley’s Oregon office at (503) 326-3386 review the script below for ideas about how to educate his staff about how this bill will impact you, and why it will harm workers.
“Hi Senator Merkley, my name is ____, and I’m calling to ask you to withdraw Senate Bill 5054.”
Personalize it! Tell a little snippet of your story – one reason why it’s important to you. There will be other organizations talking to senators who will present the facts, so you don’t need to worry about stats and figures. We need to humanize ourselves. Right now, too many people choose to think of us as sub-human, and we need to remind the public that we are real people. We probably won’t sway any senators’ hearts, but we can make them look like gaping, heartless assholes for supporting SISEA.
Some examples from industry workers:
Ex 1. “I’m a single mother. I started making porn over the summer after I lost my job due to COVID. My content pays for my bills and puts food on the table for my three-year-old son, Johnny. If SB 5054 passes, my son and I will lose our home. Please pull SB 5054.”
Ex 2. “As a victim of childhood sexual abuse, creating and producing my own erotic content has given me ownership of my sexuality and has helped me overcome my trauma. SB 5054 would destroy my career as an independent porn performer. Please withdraw SB 5054.”
Ex 3. “I have a chronic health condition that makes it incredibly difficult to keep a normal job. The flexibility of online sex work allows me to dictate my own schedule according to my health needs. SB 5054 would destroy the system that allows me, a person with a disability, to pay for my medical care and keep a roof over my head. And I am not the only one. Please withdraw SB 5054 so that I and other disabled performers can continue to make a living.”
Ex 4. “As a transgender man, online sex work has given me confidence in myself and my body. I decided to do porn after years of facing discrimination within the traditional workplace, and I wouldn’t have the mental or financial stability that I now have if it weren’t for making porn. And a lot of my fellow queer porn models feel the same way. Please reconsider your support for SB 5054.”
Thank them and sign off!
“Thank you!/Thanks/All the best/Have a good one/[your favorite polite “good bye”]”
You can email Senator Merkley’s office by clicking here.
Tell the Senator how this will impact you personally. Take a look at the “List of reasons why SISEA is bad…” above or check out this post by FSC to get an idea on what to say or how it may impact you.
Feel free to copy/paste the below text to finish your email: (optional)
Senate Bill 5054 is not what it seems and violates our constitutional rights. This bill’s goal is to ban pornography in the US by creating an impossible barrier to entry for small business owners, and drastically increase the cost of operating consensual pornography sites to bleed companies dry. It does this by creating and enforcing excessive, monetarily impractical requirements that will be disproportionately applied to only one industry simply because it is offensive to the bill creators religious beliefs. This bill violates our first amendment right to free speech and violates the separation of church and state by creating DOJ and FSC leeway to police religious morality and constitutionally protected free speech.
This bill will close millions of small businesses will force already marginalized workers into riskier situations such as street based sex work, where a disproportionate amount of minority women and/or trans individuals are arrested.
OK, did that what can we do next?
Many grassroots organizers, vanilla organizations that share our concern with this bill, and industry organizations are working on this too, we can support them by contacting the Senators in the committee that will hear this bill soon and our own Senators.
The bill’s next stop is the committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation. We can also contact our own senators who may be interested in hearing out cause out. Only by contacting them now can we get ahead of the false narratives that created this bill.
Many other groups are working on speaking to Merkley and their representatives, but it is very important that we also inform our senators that this bill is harmful, and must be stopped.
Use this link to find your Senators, and email and call their office with the same concerns shared above.