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posted by on Wednesday December 14 2016, @01:22PM   Printer-friendly
from the Voltaire-wins-for-a-change dept.

Executives for the online classified advertising website Backpage have seen the charges against them dismissed:

Last month, a California judge tentatively ruled that he would dismiss charges lodged by California's attorney general against's chief executive and two of its former owners. The tables seemed to turn after a November 16 hearing in which Sacramento County Superior Court Judge Michael Bowman decided against following his tentative ruling. But on Friday, the judge issued a final order that virtually mirrored the earlier one: charges dismissed.

[...] Judge Bowman agreed with the defendants, including former owners Michael Lacey and James Larkin, that they were protected, among other things, by the Communications Decency Act, and hence they were not liable for third-party ads posted by others.

"Congress struck a balance in favor of free speech in that Congress did not wish to hold liable online publishers for the action of publishing third-party speech and thus provided for both a foreclosure from prosecution and an affirmative defense at trial. Congress has spoken on this matter and it is for Congress, not this Court, to revisit," the judge initially ruled. Judge Bowman issued nearly the same language (PDF) in his latest ruling: "By enacting the CDA, Congress struck a balance in favor of free speech by providing for both a foreclosure from prosecution and an affirmative defense at trial for those who are deemed an internet service provider."

Previously: Backpage's Dallas Offices Raided, CEO Charged With "Pimping"

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  • (Score: 2, Insightful) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 14 2016, @06:31PM

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 14 2016, @06:31PM (#441371)

    > A bad day for those fighting the spread of prostitution to the Internet, however.

    No, a bad day for people driving prostitution back to the streets.

    Backpage (and craigslist before that god damn hypocrite spitzer [] bullied them into shutting down their sex ads section) were the most effective way to get sex workers off the street and in to the far safer form of "outcall" work where they meet clients at their motel room or even their home. Outcalls are still dangerous, but streetwalking is about 100x more dangerous and far less lucrative so outcall work actually reduces the number of times a sex worker will have to take the risk of meeting a stranger in order to make the same amount of money.

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