In the past, lawsuits like these were dismissed due to the Communications Decency Act of 1996. The CDA basically states that a website is not responsible for the content that its users post, however if Backpage did in fact edit ads submitted by users, it may make the CDA defense null and void. These lawsuits are in addition to the ones already filed in the states of California, Texas, Washington and Alabama.
Hopefully at least one of these lawsuits will have its intended consequence because let’s not fool ourselves, even amid its current legal woes Backpage is still making money off the victims of sex trafficking. The fight is far from over, but Backpage is showing a vulnerability in its legal armor.
The only people who Backpage really listens to are dead Presidents, so hurting them financially really is the best way to put them out of the sex trade business, and yes, they are still making money from sex trafficking ads.
When the SAVE Act (Stop Advertising Victims of Exploitation) was passed by both houses of Congress I wondered if this would be the impetus for Backpage to finally move overseas as they’ve been threatening. I also said that the Constitutionality of the law would inevitably be challenged. What I didn’t expect was for Backpage to sue the federal government to prevent enforcement of the law that was signed by President Obama back in May.
Of course they’re basing their suit on the First Amendment’s right to freedom of speech as they always do. I may not be a Constitutional scholar but in my opinion the First Amendment does not give everyone carte blanche to do whatever the hell they want then claim free speech. To allow the First Amendment to be used like that renders it meaningless. Not to mention as I’ve said before, your rights end at my nose. Backpage is using their so-called free speech to profit off of women and girls who are having their Thirteenth Amendment rights violated by the pimps and traffickers who advertise them on Backpage.
Within the past few years I’ve tried to stop posting stories that happen outside the US because I don’t live there. It’s not some jingoistic thing. I just feel if I’m ignorant of the country’s culture I have no business posting about it. However this story should speak to not only parents in the Western world but to those of us who believe that personal responsibility is a dying concept.
In Northern Ireland a man sued Facebook for allegedly allowing his 11-year-old daughter to open multiple Facebook accounts and post suggestive photos of herself on those accounts. She was said to have been approached by at least one predator who has now been legally restrained from contacting her. As you may know Facebook’s terms of service state that users have to be 13 in order to join Facebook.
You would think that in a world that made sense the lawsuit would be thrown out of court. Maybe the laws regarding this in the UK are different from those in the US, like their libel laws, because Facebook actually settled for an undisclosed amount. In my opinion this assclown just got a payday for not doing the job of a parent.
Unfortunately no social network or app is going to do any kind of real age verification because that would be bad for business. The goal for these companies is to have as many users as possible. If a company like Facebook were to even charge a dollar to verify age a huge chunk of its userbase would leave in droves. The article mentions that maybe in Europe they could use passport numbers as age identifiers but then Facebook has our passport number. Facebook doesn’t exactly have the best track record when it comes to privacy so I’m sure many people would not want Facebook to have that information.
So instead we have to do our jobs as parents and what our children do online with either their computers or smartphones. If I had to hazard a guess there was not a lot of monitoring going on here until it was already too late and now someone got paid off for their own negligence.
Back in 2012, three women who were prostituted on Backpage while underage filed a lawsuit against the website in the state of Washington. For three years I hadn’t heard any updates about the lawsuit. I just assumed it was dismissed like similar lawsuits have been in the past. I’m glad I was wrong.
Earlier today the State Supreme Court of Washington ruled that the lawsuit against Backpage can proceed. Previously lawsuits like this have been dismissed because of the Federal Communications Decency Act of 1996. That act, which is antiquated in internet time in my opinion, basically says that a website is not responsible for the content that its users may post on it. However, in their ruling the court said that the case can proceed because there may be evidence that Backpage had a hand in creating the content.
The lawsuit filed in Pierce County Superior Court claimed Backpage.com markets itself as a place to sell “escort services” but actually provides pimps with instructions on how to write an ad that works.
Between the lawsuit proceeding and taking a hit in the wallet after the credit card companies cut ties with them it looks like Backpage may finally be beginning to reap what they have sown.
In response to the major credit card companies cutting all ties with Backpage, they have filed a lawsuit against Cook County, Illinois, Sheriff Tom Dart. The suit asks for damages for the revenue they’ve lost from their ‘adult service’ ads.
Let’s hear from Backpage’s legal team including head legal weasel Liz McDougall…
“Sheriff Dart’s actions to cripple Backpage.com and all speech through the site are an especially pernicious form of prior restraint,” the suit said. “He has achieved his purpose through false accusations, innuendo, and coercion.”
Liz McDougall, general council to Backpage.com LLC, said, “Our goal is to ensure that one elected official, particularly a county sheriff, cannot dictate what speech is or is not appropriate.”
I love how Backpage and McDougall act like they’re the only ones entitled to rights. Sheriff Dart has the right to ask the credit card companies to assist on ending online sex trafficking. The credit card companies have every right not to do business with whomever they want. None of which is a violation of Backpage’s right to free speech. I also find it ironic that Backpage is accusing anyone of coercion since so many of the girls and women that have been advertised on their site have been coerced, a lot off times violently, into sexual slavery.
This is an act of desperation from a company that’s sinking fast. Hopefully they won’t be able to stay afloat much longer.
Normally I don’t post links from biased news sources. One News Now touts itself as an American Christian news outlet. However, this article is spot on when it comes to Backpage escaping justice because of the outdated Federal Communications Decency Act.
Specifically the article about the lawsuit in Massachusetts filed by three women who were trafficked on Backpage while underage and why the suit was dismissed.
“It allows for service providers who make good-faith efforts to protect children from pornography, from sexual exploitation, and even prostitution,” explains Donna Rice Hughes, who heads Enough is Enough. “If they make a good-faith attempt to protect children, then they will have civil immunity from any type of prosecution.”
After a mistrial I’m actually surprised that Oliver took the plea. I thought there would have been a good chance he would have been acquitted if they had gone to trial again. I’d rather see him go to jail for 13-27 then walking out free.
Recently the family of the victim of the Taft Union High school shooting has filed a claim against the school on the grounds that the school failed to protect the victim. No wait, I read that wrong,. The family of the gunman filed the multi-million dollar claim for the school allegedly failing to protect their precious snowflake.
Not only do I hope that Oliver is found guilty during his retrial later this month but I hope the family of Bowe Cleveland sue Oliver’s family for every penny. You relinquish any claims of victimhood when you shoot an unarmed kid in the chest.
UPDATE 6/7/2015: Oliver’s mom has been dismissed from the lawsuit against the school. I wish I could say it was because a judge thought she deserved no money but it was actually because she waited too long to file.