APAG Meets With Sen. Merkley’s Staff Regarding SISEA, Releases Statement

LOS ANGELES — Members of the Adult Performance Artists Guild (APAG) Executive Board met today with representatives from Senator Jeff Merkley’s office (D-Ore.) to discuss his support for SISEA (Stop Internet Sexual Exploitation Act).

Senators Merkeley and Ben Sasse (R-Neb.) had co-introduced SISEA during last Congress, and there have been suggestions that they intend to re-introduce a version of it during the new Congress.

Today, members of APAG’s Executive Board met with representatives from Oregon Senator Jeff Merkley’s office to discuss the implications that SISEA (Stop Internet Sexual Exploitation Act) would [have for] our community of workers, NSFW artists and victims of revenge porn.

APAG’s President Alana Evans, Vice President Ruby, and Secretary/Treasurer Kelly Pierce met with staff and highlighted the main sources of contention regarding the bill that was introduced to the 116th Congress last December.

While the bill in its current form died in committee, Senator Merkley’s office is working on the language of the bill, according to staff, but would not be re-introduced for some time.

The meeting went very well, with Merkley’s staff being responsive, concerned and open to hearing our opinions about the legislation.

Some highlights from the meeting include:

  • Age of Consent: We discussed the concern regarding the loophole this bill would create that could potentially allow for underage users to upload content based on states‘ age of consent laws
  • NSFW Artistic Depiction: We discussed that while the intention may have been to prevent „deep fake“ images from violating consent, this language would inadvertently limit artists from being able share artist renditions of NSFW work material, including constitutionally protected art and even comics
  • Consent List Requirements: We informed the team that APAG has offered a consent list, along with other paperwork necessary for production, to our community for the last three years. We explained that if a consent list was required, the issue of making it a retroactive rule would leave many performers unable to use content because we cannot go back and recreate paperwork. It was discussed that if a consent list would be required in the future, the retroactive clause would be removed and that they would consult with adult industry groups to create this list
  • Removal of Abuse Material in a Timely Manner: We shared with the group our experience with Pornhub and their removal of content. Our experience with Pornhub has always been positive, with Pornhub answering requests and removing any concerning content within an hour, and how responsive and helpful they have been
  • 24-Hour Hotline: Requiring a hotline with workers answering phones would create an avenue of abuse against these workers with prank calls or abusive callers. We noted that Facebook had to send their moderators to trauma support because of the abuse they endured and that this would be a liability
  • Platforms: This bill would affect not only adult platforms but social media such as Reddit, Twitter and other places that allow NSFW content. We described how the constant upload of 2257 documents and identification would lead to identity theft and fraud against our workers
  • Dating Apps: We shared how this legislation could inadvertently affect dating apps like Tinder and Grindr that allow images and video to be uploaded
  • Definition of Pornography: There is no definition of „pornography“ within the bill leaving it open to interpretation which could cause issues with content being mislabeled without clear defining points of what is considered pornography
  • Safe Study Act: We asked that the bill „Safe Study Act“ be allowed to go through first to establish the effects of FOSTA/SESTA against sex workers prior to introducing more legislation that would potentially harm our community
  • U.S.-Based Companies: We shared with the team that this legislation would only affect U.S.-based companies and those with U.S. stakes, potentially creating a competition war amongst companies, leaving workers financially affected
  • Revenge Porn Database: We explained how creating a database of revenge porn, and its victims could lead to more abuse of those victims, especially if a nonprofit organization was placed in charge of this material. Victim-blaming often occurs when self created adult material is leaked, leading to more potential harm than good

When the meeting came to a close, we were offered the opportunity to stay in communication with their staff to be involved as the bill is shaped for future legislative intentions. We will maintain an open dialogue to be sure when SISEA returns, it protects our workers as opposed to harming them.

We shared APAG’s consent list, as well as our verification portal and our education portal to show that as a union, we support the well-being of our community. 

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