Earlier today a federal judge denied an injunction request Backpage made against Cook County, Illinois, Sheriff Tom Dart. As you may recall Sheriff Dart previously had a temporary restraining order put against him by Backpage after he petitioned Visa and Mastercard to stop doing business with Backpage over sex trafficking concerns.
In his 29-page order, U.S. District Judge John Tharp wrote that the “cease and desist” letters Dart wrote to Visa and Mastercard warning them that Backpage was a haven for prostitution and human trafficking could have been construed as threats. But they did not amount to censorship, since the sheriff had no legal authority to force the credit card companies to act, he held.
Emphasis mine since Backpage loves to tout how their dealings in prostitution and human trafficking are ‘free speech’, but I digress.
According to the Chicago Tribune article there was even evidence that Mastercard was already looking into cutting off Backpage prior to Sheriff Dart’s request.
I would love to know how much cash Backpage is hemorrhaging daily since the majority of their income has been cut off. How long will their new Dutch corporate overlords allow them to lose money before cutting their losses? Backpage is suing Sheriff Dart over lost revenue, but that could be tied up in the courts for years while the credit card companies aren’t changing their stance on Backpage.
When the death knell for Backpage is sounded it will also be freedom ringing for many of its victims and Sheriff Dart will be holding the bell hammer.
UPDATE 9/19/2015: Backpage is appealing the judge’s decision although I still don’t see what that will accomplish since the credit card companies have already made their decisions.