I knew it was too good to be true but it was worth a shot. Earlier today, Sacramento County Superior Court Judge Michael Bowman stated that he was going to dismiss the pimping charges against Backpage CEO Carl Ferrer, and shareholders Michael Lacy and Jim Larkin. Not surprisingly, Judge Bowman cited the Communications Decency Act of 1996 for his reason to dismiss the charges.
For those of you who may not know the CDA basically says that website owners are not responsible for the content posted by their users. For example, if someone left a comment on my site saying they were going to kill someone and then did it, I would not be held responsible. The problem here is two-fold however. The first is that I’m not making money from my commenters. Backpage makes millions of dollars off of ads that are obviously for prostitution, which brings child prostitution and human trafficking with it. The second issue is that the CDA is 20 years old. It was written before the advent of broadband internet, wi-fi and smartphones. I guess the CDA was formed out of all those inflammatory Geocities pages from back then.
As the internet evolves so should the CDA. To make rulings on such important matters using such an antiquated technological law is shameful. I guess we won’t see any real progress against these panderers until the CDA is modified to reflect current concerns.
UPDATE 11/17/2016: The judge has given both sides more time to argue their respective cases. The judge will rule on the matter on December 9th, but I imagine he’ll unfortunately throw the pimping charges out.