(WASHINGTON POST, FEB 27: House passes anti-online sex trafficking bill, allows targeting of websites like Backpage.com)
The House of Representatives passed a bill Tuesday (The proposed law, titled “Allow States and Victims to Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act of 2017” or “FOSTA,” that gives prosecutors, state attorneys general and sex trafficking victims a clearer route to pursue legal action against websites hosting advertisements for prostitutes, which advocates have long argued are a hive for trafficking children). The final vote in the House was 388-25 – THAT’S CRAZY!!!
The bill now goes to the Senate, which already has passed a similar version out of committee. If approved, it would go to the White House, where supporters are hopeful that President Trump will sign it. This Bill is pretty much a witch hunt for Backpage; they are desperately trying to shut them down but this will not go down without a fight. Representative Wagner begs to differ though and I quote “This is a landmark piece of legislation. This is not just about Backpage. There are hundreds of others out there that are much worse. They’ve got to be brought down also.”
VIVIAN: But let’s start from the very beginning…how did this all come to be? There is a movie out now called “I am Jane Doe”…this movie is based on the true story, starting in 2009, of 2 mothers whose 13 and 15 year old girls were lured away by sex traffickers. They found their daughters online on backpage and they both sued backpage but their cases got dismissed because of the CDA 230 (a federal law that prevents websites, blogs, and forums from being held responsible for the speech of their users) .This has now become a movement against sex trafficking.
Here are some quotes from the movie:
- Backpage has 80% of the market for online sex ads and are in 80 countries.
- $8 out of ever $10 spent on online sex ads goes to backpage. So perhaps they are going after the “big fish” and making an example out of backpage so that other online venues would close up shop?
- In October 2010, craigslist shut down its adult section and backpage’s popularity sky rocketed. The movie quotes backpage as being the “Walmart of human trafficking”.
- Apparently, the sex traffickers spoke in codes using emojis, for example, an umbrella means NO CONDOM. And here I was just thinking these girls were just trying to draw attention to themselves. I always wondered why they used so many emoji’s on there. It’s overwhelming.
- 1 out of 7 men admit to buying illegal commercial sex. They are older, white, and live in the suburbs. They’re not the ones you would expect”.
- In 2014, back page made $134 Million and then sold it’s interest to a Dutch company, or so they said.
- In 2015 the net revenue was $153 Million! I always knew they were cleaning up, I just wasn’t sure just how much. Now we know. I believe is the main reason backpage is being used as the scapegoat.
- The movie also states that pimps usually go after the runaways, the children with low self esteem, etc.
In June of 2015, Cook County, IL Sheriff, Thomas J Dart sent a cease and desist letter to Visa and MasterCard citing that they were doing business with a criminal organization. That was when backpage decided to offer free ads and you could pay for upgrades with a personal check. Remember?
Backpage then sues the sheriff and the accusation in this movie is that backpage knows about the sex trafficking and chooses to do nothing about it. They believe that backpage coaches pimps on how to safely post an ad so as not to get flagged by L.E. They feel that the customers base are men looking to have sex with children. They even went as far as saying that backpage is actually in the pimping business posing as a publisher.
They also believed that the reason why the cases kept getting dismissed in favor of backpage, was because the judges were all men. The movie painted anyone who wasn’t actively fighting against backpage, as supporters of sex trafficking which is absurd.
In November of 2015, the lawyers of the moms some how discover that one of the original owners of backpage, James Larkin, was still actively involved in the company when a letter was sent from HR through another company he owned. They were then able to drum up charges against the CEO, Carl Ferrer, and the original owners, James Larkin andMichael Lacy
In Feb 2016, the senate sub committee ruled that backpage was in contempt because Ferrer didn’t show up for a subpoena hearing.
October 2016 backpage is raided and Ferrer, Larkin, and Lacy are all arrested within 4 days of each other on pimping related charges.
The men argue that the charges violate section 230 and the judge dismisses the case.
What I don’t understand is why we are not going after the root of the problem? The moms pose the question to the owners of the website and the people watching. “What would you do if it were your child that was the victim of sex trafficking?” We can answer this when I’m done giving you all the details.
Many Internet companies initially opposed any alteration of the Communications Decency Act, saying it would open them up to lawsuits for content they weren’t aware of or involved in. But many of the big Internet players dropped their opposition in recent months and are now in full support: FACEBOOK, IBM, Oracle and Hewlett Packard Enterprise.
The 2 main companies that rally on behalf of the tech companies for free speech are the Electronic Frontier Foundation and the Center for Democracy and Technology. Google and some other top technology companies donate to these organizations and are painted by the movie as supporters of sex trafficking and backpage.
Evan Engstrom, executive director of Engine, an advocacy group for Internet start-ups, even says and I quote “you’re creating a situation that may end up harming efforts to stop human trafficking. It creates potential legal liability for knowingly facilitating trafficking. The definition of knowledge is complicated,” and material can be posted on websites without hosts’ knowledge. If you don’t know, you probably shouldn’t be held liable.”
On Jan 2017 backpage shuts down the adult section. The movie claims that it is just a publicity stunt. They claim that the ONLY way to stop sex trafficking is by changing the law (sec 230) which is how FOSTA/SESTA came into fruition. Because we all know that laws ALWAYS stop criminals from committing crimes right?
Missouri Representative Ann Wagner filed FOSTA last April which passed on Feb 27, 2017 with an overwhelming number of supporting votes.
Ohio Senator Rob Portman filed a version in the Senate, called the “Stop Enabling Sex Traffickers Act,” or “SESTA,” last August which was to be decided March 12, 2018, but got moved to March, 19 2018.
Vivian: They seem to forget that the United States is not the only country in the world. Shutting down backpage will only open the door for smarter “criminal websites”. I say get to the root of the problem. Kill all men! Because blaming a website for your daughter being trafficked is silly. We need to start at home and start talking to our kids. Build and lift them up so that they are not prey for pimps.
But before everyone starts panicking, I just want to state the fact that Federal laws generally apply to people living in the United Statesand its territories. Congress creates and passes bills. The President then signs those bills into law. Federal courts may review these laws and strike them down if they think they do not agree with the U.S. Constitution!
So this isn’t final yet, hang in there ladies!