Search Results for: Communications Decency Act

Number of Results: 12

State of Washington forced to settle with Backpage

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State agrees to work to repeal law opposed by Backpage.com:

Earlier this year the state of Washington passed Senate Bill 6251 into law. In a nutshell the law required websites and publications doing business in the state of Washington to verify the ages of the women being advertised in ‘escort’ ads. Almost immediately Village Voice Media, which owned Backpage at the time, sued to have the law blocked. They won.

More recently a few weeks ago not only has Washington given up on SB 6251 but they’ve also agreed to pay Backpage $200K for legal fees. That’s not just a devastating loss for you know…freedom but it adds insult to injury to a state that is trying its best to stop online sex trafficking of women and children.

While Backpage continues to make money off the exploited women and children in the adult section of their site Attorney General Rob McKenna sums up what the stumbling block is in trying to deal with sites like Backpage…

“But unless Congress acts to revise the section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, an appeal will be extremely challenging and costly. It is unfortunate that because of this ruling, Backpage will continue to profit from sex ads for kids and others. Congress must revisit the CDA in order to close a loophole that allows companies such as Backpage to make millions advertising an illegal service that takes a particularly devastating toll on children,”

A man after my own heart. As I’m fond of saying the Communications Decency Act was signed into law in 1996. That was the infancy of a publicly available internet. Do you remember the internet from 1996? I wasn’t even on it yet but it dredges up memories of dial-up modems, AOL discs and Netscape. How much has the internet evolved in the past 16 years? Shouldn’t the CDA evolve along with it? And again what is more important, Backpage’s ‘right’ to make money from sexual slavery or the rights of the women and children on their pages not to be sold?

Texas bill would allow sex trafficking victims to sue Backpage

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Lawmakers Expect Fight Against Anti-Trafficking Bill:

This story is a couple of weeks old but still relevant.

In the Texas senate a bill called Senate Bill 94 would allow victims of sex trafficking to sue any publisher “of an advertisement that led to their victimization.” That means that any sex trafficking victim that was advertised in Texas would be able to sue websites that they were advertised on like Backpage and other sites but mostly Backpage.

As usual though the free speech argument is being thrown out there but I still don’t see how profiting from sexual slavery is a free speech issue. As I am fond of saying while people are quick to defend the supposed First Amendment rights of sleaze like Backpage barely anyone is willing to step up to protect the victims’ Thirteenth Amendment rights.

I’m sure the Federal Communications Decency Act will come up as well which holds websites harmless if their users participate in illegal activity on their website. That law was passed in 1996. It’s old enough to drive now. In internet years that makes it an archaic law. I’m sure the drafters of it did not have a major website profiting from child prostitution in mind when the law was written. Again in internet terms, this law is about as up to date as prohibition.

But no it’s more important for Backpage to be able to advertise women and girls for sex than it is the well-being of the women and children sold. And people wonder why I think humanity is a lost cause.

Internet Archive supports Backpage sex trafficking

Are those pillars or bars?

Are those pillars or bars?

US Judge Grants Injunction in Backpage.com Lawsuit:

Last week a federal judge granted an injunction against a Washington state law that would require sites like Backpage to verify the ages of the women being advertised in their adult section.

The decision U.S. District Judge Ricardo S. Martinez issued Friday stops the law from taking effect until the lawsuit challenging it can be heard in court.

I posted about the lawsuit here.

Judge Martinez believes that the ‘free speech’ issue may have some merit. I disagree but I don’t get to make the rules.

What I want to talk about is the unusual ally that the Village Voice Media owned backpage.com has garnered in their fight to keep making profits on the victims of sex trafficking. That would be the Internet Archive, aka Archive,org, aka The Wayback Machine, aka the site you go to when you want to see how bad websites looked in the past.

Backpage and Internet Archive argue the new law violates the Communications Decency Act of 1996, as well as the First, Fifth, and Fourteenth Amendments and the commerce clause of the U.S. Constitution.

Yet they once again not only gloss over the Thirteenth Amendment but basic human rights as well.

Let’s not kid ourselves, this about money and nothing else. Backpage wants to make it off the backs of sex trafficking victims and doesn’t care who gets raped, kidnapped, beaten, tortured and killed to get it. Organizations like the EFF and now Internet Archive are nothing more than their willing dupes.

Backpage has Washington sex trafficking law blocked

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Backpage.com sues over Wash. sex-trafficking law:

In the state of Washington law SB 6251 was set to take effect today. The law would require that sites like Backpage and papers like Village Voice Media publications would be required to verify the ages of the people in ‘escort’ ads. (ie, prostitution and trafficking ads)

Village Voice Media and Backpage being the stalwart defenders of the disadvantaged that they are not only sued to have the low blocked, they won, for now. Once again the greedy cowards at VVM hide behind the federal Communications Decency Act. Now I’m no legal expert but the essence of the CDA was to protect site owners from when one of their troll users posted something criminal or inflammatory on their websites. What the CDA never accounted for was website owners making millions of dollars on women and children being forcibly sold into sex slavery. Not to mention that the CDA was passed in 1996. In terms of internet years that was a lifetime ago. That’s when people were still using dial-up to connect to their AOL accounts on 28.8K modems. The internet has evolved so much in that time yet the CDA is stuck in the era of the dancing baby. It’s an archaic law that is in desperate need of a modern upgrade.

Of course we have a quote from Backpage’s new head legal weasel Liz McDougall about how the fine folks at Backpage shit puppies and rainbows…

Company lawyer Liz McDougall said that Backpage is “an online industry leader in working cooperatively with law enforcement to identify, arrest and prostitute…I mean prosecute human traffickers,” and that Washington’s law would force criminal conduct back underground, where it’s harder to track.

“The trafficking of children for sex is an abomination,” she said in a written statement. “I believe aggressive improvements in technology and close collaboration between the online service community, law enforcement and (nongovernmental organizations) is the best approach to fighting human trafficking.”

I may have altered the quote somewhat. Joking aside what she’s really saying is that this law interferes with Backpage and VVM making money hand over fist keeping their dead industry alive on the backs of rape victims. If Backpage were to shut down the adult section it would not make traffickers harder to track and it would decrease their numbers greatly. Backpage may be the leader of online trafficking today but they still don’t come close to the numbers that craigslist had at the height of their involvement in the sex trade. When sites like craigslist and Backpage shut down their erotic/adult sections the number of sex traffickers decrease. The harder you make the threshold of entry higher for traffickers to post online it would greatly decrease their presence.

Implausible and unbelieveable

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Suthers Demands Website Drops Sex Service Ads:

This is an article about Colorado Attorney General John Suthers and how he wants backpage to remove their adult ads. Same old posturing from Village Voice Media but there’s a quote in this article that I would like to show you that shows how attorneys operate on an entirely different plane than real people.

First Amendment attorney Tom Kelley, who does not represent Backpage.com, says they have protection under the Constitution and through communication laws.

“Unless it can be shown that the criminal activity is so blatantly advertised that denial of knowledge of what is going on is just implausible, unbelievable,” Kelley said.

I went to my local backpage under the escort section and this is the first ad I found…

IM SUPER SEXXI AND SUPER SUBMISSIVE…IM HOTT,READII,AND WAITING FOR YOU.. ABOUT ME:: *ClEaN *DiScReT & CoNfIdEnTiAl •MY DONATIONS-NON~NEGOTIABLE

***CALL NOW!!!!***HURRY SPL WONT LAST LONG DONT MISS OUT!!!

AVAIL.NOW **ATTN** SPLS FOR INCALLS ONLY!!!!

The ad is accompanied by pictures of a woman in lingerie.

How can anyone not say that this isn’t blatant? I would say that it would be implausible for backpage to deny what is obviously going on. Do they think she’s having incalls for cooking classes? Or is she a submissive yoga instructor?

Yet badly outdated laws like the 1996 Communications Decency Act allow backpage to continue to make money from what is obviously and blatantly prostitution and human trafficking. There are supposed to be laws that protect the victims but in this society you can see which of the two laws takes precedence.

Backpage child trafficking lawsuit dismissed

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Federal judge dismisses teen’s sex trafficking lawsuit against website:

I originally posted about the lawsuit against backpage here. For those of you who may not remember a 14-year-old girl from st. Louis sued backpage after she was prostituted on the site by 27-year-old Latasha Jewell McFarland. The lawsuit accused backpage of knowingly turning a blind eye to the trafficking of children that happens on their site. Unfortunately the lawsuit was recently dismissed.

The presiding judge threw out the suit based on the Communications Decency act which basically absolves any website of responsibly for content posted by its users. This act was put into place in 1996. In internet terms it might as well have been put in place during the Paleozoic era. I’m sure that when it was enacted in 1996 that it’s authors had no idea that this is what it would be used to protect, that it would be used to absolve those who know that children are being trafficked on their site and refuse to do anything about it.

This is not an argument about a ‘free internet’. This is an argument about real people who aren’t so free. The Communications Decency Act needs to be revised in the name of justice.

Village Voice Media asks for dismissal of child trafficking lawsuit

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Backpage.com Urges Dismissal Of Teen’s Sex Trafficking Lawsuit:

Rather than doing the right thing Village Voice Media has asked a judge to dismiss the lawsuit against them filed by a girl who was trafficked on backpage.com.

Once again they’re hiding behind the Communications Decency Act. A law that was passed in 1996 which in internet years is a lifetime ago. But what the CDA doesn’t address is what if a website opens up a section for obvious illegal activity?

You would think that Village Voice Media would know that this would come as bad PR if it was actually reported except in industry circles. That’s how the problems with craigslist first started being reported. Unfortunately it took 2 high-profile murders for the rest of the world to catch up. Hopefully it won’t take the rest of the world that long to get on to backpage.

Rather than hiding behind an arcane law maybe they should do the right thing and shut down their adult section. You would think that they would have learned from craigslist’s mistakes yet here we are.

Backpage responds to lawsuit

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Backpage.com, VVMH Helped FBI Catch Child Predator:

In response to the lawsuit filed against them by a victim of child trafficking Village Voice Media owned Backpage.com released the following press release. Since it’s a press release I’m going to copy and paste the whole thing. I mean they want the press right? I’m more than happy to give it to them.

PHOENIX, AZ–(Marketwire – September 19, 2010) – On Friday, an attorney attempted to milk a tragedy by suing Village Voice Media Holdings, LLC and its related entity Backpage.com in a child predator case in which Backpage.com’s records helped convict Latasha Jewell McFarland of pimping out a minor.

The lawsuit is riddled with errors. The claim that we knowingly assisted McFarland in committing criminal acts is a lie fabricated by a trial lawyer looking for a payday. The attorney seeks to redirect blame from a convicted predator to Backpage.com, which helped prosecute the criminal.

Without our knowledge, the predator violated our terms of use. Backpage.com has stringent safeguards in place to ensure that only adults use the site. We provided the FBI with the perpetrator’s I.P. address and credit-card information.

Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act of 1996 recognized that the very nature of the Internet meant that vast traffic depended on the ability of citizens to post directly onto websites like Backpage.com, Facebook, MySpace or eBay, or to have search engines like Google and Yahoo find postings without pre-screening or censorship. The responsibility, under the law, rests with the person supplying the post.

In the last two years, Backpage.com has had 58 million posts, of which 6 million were adult. In this vast exchange of information, law enforcement agencies have asked for our testimony in precisely five underage cases.

Because one case is too many, we have, and we will continue to, cooperate willingly with authorities.

It seems that backpage has the same conundrum that craigslist did. You can’t really pride yourself on helping put a child trafficker behind bars when it was your site that was used as the avenue to pimp out a 14-year-old girl. And they say that ‘without their knowledge’ the trafficker violated their TOS. What do they think everyone posting in their adult section is doing? Again just like craigslist in the past backpage is insulting the intelligence of people who actually care about human trafficking and not the almighty dollar.

Also just like craigslist, backpage likes to throw around the Communications Decency Act of 1996. That was 14 years ago. Isn’t the internet a vastly different place then it was back in ’96? Hell I wasn’t even on the internet back in ’96. When the law was written I’m sure the thought of human trafficking never even crossed their minds. That’s one law that is in desperate need of an overhaul so sites that make money off the backs of children and women forced into sexual slavery would get the repercussions that they’re do.

And again, like I need to say it, backpage is emulating their older friend craigslist by claiming that they will continue to work with authorities. Yet they still won’t do anything to prevent law enforcement from being called in the first place.

Same song, different band.

Child trafficking victim to sue backpage

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Girl prostituted at 14 sues online ad site:

The other day I posted about a 14-year-old girl who was trafficked on the Village Voice Media owned backpage.com. Now that same girl, who is now 15, is suing backpage for allowing her to be trafficked.

The girl was trafficked by 27-year-old Latasha Jewell McFarland who has already pleaded guilty and is looking at prison time.

The girl’s attorney, Robert Pedroli, is aware that the Federal Communications Decency Act absolves most websites of content posted by its users however he says that the Child Abuse Victims Rights Act supersedes that.

“We allege they are the facilitators,” Pedroli said. “They provide an online safe house for these pimps and these johns to meet. They are aiders and abetters under federal law.”

No word on how much they’re suing for but I wish them well and I hope this will bring more attention to backpage who isn’t even pretending to be doing anything about this.

It's not craigslist's fault

Legal experts absolve craigslist on sex ads:

A fancy lawyerin’ type person says that craigslist is not responsible for their ads for illegal stuff like drugs and prostitution.

In the wake of an FBI raid on the home of a Sacramento photographer for allegedly posting photos of underage prostitutes on craigslist, experts said the huge online classified site has no responsibility for policing such behavior.

In fact, federal law specifically exempts online services from such liability, said Lauren Gelman, associate director of the Center for Internet and Society at Stanford University Law School.

Gelman said the federal Communications Decency Act, passed in 1996, exempts online services such as craigslist, America Online and Yahoo from liability for the content that their users post.

“If craigslist was accused of committing a criminal act, they would be liable,” Gelman said. “But for hosting pictures, there wouldn’t be any liability.”

Well isn’t that special? That still doesn’t change it from being a wretched hive of scum and villainy. They may not be legally responsible but how about, I know this is a foreign concept to most, morally responsible? It’s only a matter of time before one of these girls gets killed if one hasn’t been already. Not to mention the fact that these ads are advertising things that are illegal. I know, you think prostitution and drugs should be legal. That’s fine. If they’re ever legalized we won’t have to have this conversation. Until then in my mind craigslist is an accessory to drugs, prostitution, and God only knows what else.