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posted by on Thursday January 12 2017, @12:31AM   Printer-friendly
from the is-he-a-pimp-or-not? dept.

Hours after the U.S. Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations released a report claiming that online classifieds website Backpage "knowingly concealed evidence of criminality by systematically editing its adult ads", Backpage shut down the U.S. adult advertising section of its site:

The online classified advertising site Backpage.com abruptly shut its "adult" section on Monday, yielding to a campaign by state and federal government officials to close a service they contend promotes prostitution and human trafficking. The unexpected move came hours after a U.S. Senate subcommittee released a report accusing Backpage of actively editing posts on the site to remove evidence of child sex trafficking.

In announcing its decision, Backpage said it was the victim of government censorship. Backpage attorneys said executives would appear at a subcommittee hearing on Tuesday, but would not testify.

U.S. Senators Rob Portman and Claire McCaskill, however, said their subcommittee found Backpage had been far more complicit in sex trafficking than previously known. "Backpage's response wasn't to deny what we said. It was to shut down their site," they said in a statement. "That's not 'censorship' — it's validation of our findings."

On the same day, the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear an appeal from three sex trafficking victims accusing Backpage of facilitating the exploitation of children. The Supreme Court let stand a lower court ruling that said Backpage is shielded from liability by federal law since the site's classified ads are posted by users.

Also at Washington Post, NBC, and USA Today.

Previously: Backpage's Dallas Offices Raided, CEO Charged With "Pimping"
"Pimping" Charges Against Backpage Executives Dismissed
California Attorney General Pursues New Charges Against Backpage CEO


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  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 12 2017, @01:19AM

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 12 2017, @01:19AM (#452800)

    Sounds like a job for good old fashioned detective work uncovering the sex trafficking occurring on the site, and if anything the site would facilitate law enforcement with their entrapment efforts. If that detective works uncovers evidence of criminal activity by the company then fine, have a trial and judgment. If it forces the company to shut down its service with no evidence beyond the content published by users, then that is censorship. Violating Constitutional rights should be regarded as a serious crime, it isn't just a piece of toilet paper y'know.

    So, who's got odds on what? Is the tech company an innocent victim? Or is the CEO a scandalous dirty sex trafficker? Is the government boot stepping too high?

    • (Score: 1, Insightful) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 12 2017, @01:30AM

      by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 12 2017, @01:30AM (#452804)

      How about, we all just go out and get beer and not say anything on this topic instead? Would be about as effective as actual discussion and would create less animosity between 'lentals.

      • (Score: 2) by takyon on Thursday January 12 2017, @01:33AM

        by takyon (881) <takyonNO@SPAMsoylentnews.org> on Thursday January 12 2017, @01:33AM (#452806) Journal

        I haven't seen that much animosity in the previous discussions about Backpage. Most lentils seem to be pro-Backpage.

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        • (Score: 2) by bob_super on Thursday January 12 2017, @01:42AM

          by bob_super (1357) on Thursday January 12 2017, @01:42AM (#452809)

          I can fix that: "Should the backpage CEO and users be allowed to carry a 3D-printed concealed weapon to watch the Trump inauguration in their electric cars in the parking lot of a black church powered by Russian renewable energy?"

          • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 12 2017, @05:11AM

            by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 12 2017, @05:11AM (#452844)

            The second amendment says yes.

        • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 12 2017, @03:12AM

          by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 12 2017, @03:12AM (#452825)

          That's because there's a lot of Libertarians here. And others who lack any concept of unintended consequences.

          • (Score: 2) by takyon on Thursday January 12 2017, @03:22AM

            by takyon (881) <takyonNO@SPAMsoylentnews.org> on Thursday January 12 2017, @03:22AM (#452829) Journal

            Legal or illegal, it seems like this activity is likely to continue. The Web and ***coin have made it even easier to get away with.

            If Congress is targeting Backpage, it probably has more to do with the fact that it is untaxed rather than helping teh childrenz. Other forms of illicit sex involve some tax being paid (massage parlors, for example).

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          • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 12 2017, @04:49AM

            by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 12 2017, @04:49AM (#452843)
            Libertarianism is based on the awareness of unintended consequences. You're clearly an idiot.
            • (Score: 2, Troll) by aristarchus on Thursday January 12 2017, @06:57AM

              by aristarchus (2645) on Thursday January 12 2017, @06:57AM (#452863) Journal

              Libertarianism is based on the awareness of unintended consequences. You're clearly an idiot.

              Oh, please! Libertarians could not consequence themselves out of a wet paper bag! And you know why the bag is wet, right? In my vast and extensive experience, libertarians by and large are persons that no other person would ever want to have sex with. Now this might be because they are internet trolls, and trolls like ogres have layers. Or it may be that they are just so fricking self centered and egotistical that they could never every conceive [see what I did there? jdavidb only manages 'cause he's sky fairy before Ayn fairy!] of sharing a sexual encounter with another human being. For these poor radical individualists sovereign individual egoists, they can only get pleasure if they pay for it. In fact, more often than not, or so I am told by some professionals who cater to this crowd, just paying is enough to end the transaction right there.

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          • (Score: 1, Flamebait) by Anal Pumpernickel on Thursday January 12 2017, @09:48PM

            by Anal Pumpernickel (776) on Thursday January 12 2017, @09:48PM (#453080)

            So people who actually care about freedom and the Constitution lack any concept of unintended consequences? It's possible to be fully aware of the consequences of something and yet still accept them in the name of freedom.

            And what unintended consequences, exactly? I'm not seeing any huge negative consequences in this case, but even if you do, there's a chance that I won't consider to be a big deal what you consider to be a big deal.

  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 12 2017, @01:32AM

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 12 2017, @01:32AM (#452805)

    is the CEO of this outfit. Add on the rest of the scumbag troop.

  • (Score: 5, Insightful) by bob_super on Thursday January 12 2017, @01:37AM

    by bob_super (1357) on Thursday January 12 2017, @01:37AM (#452808)

    I'm sure this will totally destroy prostitution, as the people who, according to you, were making over 90% of their millions off the adult classifieds, will not work on a loophole at all.

    So, will it be a "dating" section, a "services" section, a "wellness" section, or just plain backbackpage.com?

    The cops should be glad they have backpage, like a red light district: whether it's to search for trafficking, or just for their arrest quota, they know where to look. Remove the "centralized" point, and they're off wasting their time looking all over the place again. If actual child traffickers were stupid enough to use such an obvious place, it's great for everyone that it's easier to catch them!

  • (Score: 4, Insightful) by Snotnose on Thursday January 12 2017, @01:46AM

    by Snotnose (1623) on Thursday January 12 2017, @01:46AM (#452810)

    Consenting adults. License, tax and monitor it. Who cares?

    Oh, the nattering nabobs of negativism, and the sexual prudes who hit up pornhub on the sly, or get naked with other dudes while proclaiming homosexuality is teh evil.

    --
    Why can't I age like a fine wine, instead of last week's milk?
    • (Score: 2, Disagree) by vux984 on Thursday January 12 2017, @03:04AM

      by vux984 (5045) on Thursday January 12 2017, @03:04AM (#452824)

      Consenting adults. License, tax and monitor it. Who cares?

      1) That's not going to stop sex trafficking of children.

      2) And as for adults, sure, but you better make DAMNED SURE its between actual consenting adults, and not between one adult who is consenting, and one adult who has been lured into the work under false pretenses and/or and has been threatened to have her family butchered if she doesn't "consent". That might be implied by your 'license, tax, and monitor' or it might not... as there is a demographic who gets off on it being exactly that situation and who would seek out human traffickers with coerced 'sex slaves' even if they could get it legally around the corner. They aren't buying simple sexual gratification, they are seeking that whole power trip, and they're not going to get it at the local legal regulated brothel, even if it existed.

      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 12 2017, @03:15AM

        by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 12 2017, @03:15AM (#452826)

        they are seeking that whole power trip

        They can't get that from a consensual BDSM experience?

        And let me remind you that we can't test your hypothesis in places where prostitution is illegal. If the John just wants sex and not a power trip, they still have to violate the law. We just have to take your esteemed word for it that they are seeking the power trip. Sure, you could compare it to continued trafficking in legalized countries, but other factors may be involved.

        • (Score: 2) by vux984 on Thursday January 12 2017, @06:43AM

          by vux984 (5045) on Thursday January 12 2017, @06:43AM (#452861)

          They can't get that from a consensual BDSM experience?

          No.

          Sure, you could compare it to continued trafficking in legalized countries

          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prostitution_in_Nevada [wikipedia.org]

          "Despite there being a legal option, the vast majority of prostitution in Nevada takes place illegally in Reno and Las Vegas."

          This doesn't really argue for or against my main point, but its still pretty surprising on some level.

          This on the other hand is interesting reading that is more connected to the argument at hand:

          http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0305750X12001453 [sciencedirect.com]

          • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 12 2017, @11:53AM

            by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 12 2017, @11:53AM (#452917)

            "Despite there being a legal option, the vast majority of prostitution in Nevada takes place illegally in Reno and Las Vegas."

            Pricing has everything to do with it. The legal brothels can be quite expensive compared to your local streetwalker.

      • (Score: 3, Insightful) by hemocyanin on Thursday January 12 2017, @03:27AM

        by hemocyanin (186) on Thursday January 12 2017, @03:27AM (#452831) Journal

        OK, so the totally symbolic act of shutting down Backpage is going to stop child trafficking. /sarc

        That said, this whole child trafficking thing being pushed hard in the news recently, has the feeling of the satanic ritual abuse / recovered memory scams of the 90s.

        • (Score: 2) by vux984 on Thursday January 12 2017, @06:49AM

          by vux984 (5045) on Thursday January 12 2017, @06:49AM (#452862)

          OK, so the totally symbolic act of shutting down Backpage is going to stop child trafficking. /sarc

          FWIW I agree. This is symbolic... pointless theatre. It's probably the 'right thing to do' but its not going to really change anything.

          That said, this whole child trafficking thing being pushed hard in the news recently, has the feeling of the satanic ritual abuse / recovered memory scams of the 90s.

          Really? I don't really see it in the news nearly that much at all. i find it kind of... hyper-cynical that you seem to imply that its not a real problem based on a sense that you hear about it 'too much'. There's certainly no shortage of real victims out there, if you are prepared to look.

          • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 12 2017, @07:09AM

            by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 12 2017, @07:09AM (#452866)
          • (Score: 2) by Anal Pumpernickel on Thursday January 12 2017, @09:51PM

            by Anal Pumpernickel (776) on Thursday January 12 2017, @09:51PM (#453082)

            It's probably the 'right thing to do' but its not going to really change anything.

            It's not even the right thing to do; these people are just thugs and bullies.

            Really? I don't really see it in the news nearly that much at all. i find it kind of... hyper-cynical that you seem to imply that its not a real problem based on a sense that you hear about it 'too much'.

            The whole sex trafficking thing in general seems to be a popular excuse to curtail freedoms. Oftentimes they'll simply redefine the term so that it includes all prostitution in existence just so that they can make it appear as if there's more actual sex trafficking than there really is. It's an exaggerated problem that does exist to some extent, much like fears of terrorism.

      • (Score: 3, Insightful) by Snotnose on Thursday January 12 2017, @03:33AM

        by Snotnose (1623) on Thursday January 12 2017, @03:33AM (#452832)

        1) That's not going to stop sex trafficking of children.

        What part of license and monitor don't you get? Children can't get a license. Reputable companies know they're being monitored and won't deal with children.

        What you have is 90% of the sex trade is now under control, which means law enforcement can choose who among the other 10% can be shot without consequences.

        --
        Why can't I age like a fine wine, instead of last week's milk?
        • (Score: 2) by vux984 on Thursday January 12 2017, @06:34AM

          by vux984 (5045) on Thursday January 12 2017, @06:34AM (#452857)

          What part of license and monitor don't you get? Children can't get a license. Reputable companies know they're being monitored and won't deal with children.

          Then its going to have zero affect on the particular type of case referenced by the article, it was, and shall remain 'underground'.

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 12 2017, @07:21AM

      by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 12 2017, @07:21AM (#452869)

      I am just commenting to hold a place until Azumi gets here and rips you a new asshole, just like you requested on BackdoorPage. Consent? Are the ropes too tight? Oh, you are not an adult? We are going to traffic your ass, with this piece of paper that you willing signed as we held a 9mm to your temple, OK? Do you have a problem with that? I thought not. Yes, we are going to natter your nabobs, you negative nellie John! Who really needs more than one kidney, anyway?

  • (Score: 3, Insightful) by anotherblackhat on Thursday January 12 2017, @01:46AM

    by anotherblackhat (4722) on Thursday January 12 2017, @01:46AM (#452811)

    I thought making prostitution illegal was up to the states - it's certainly legal in (parts of) Nevada.

    Is there some federal law I don't know about, or some other reason congress should be allowed to investigate what is arguably a state matter?

    • (Score: 3, Insightful) by bzipitidoo on Thursday January 12 2017, @02:27AM

      by bzipitidoo (4388) Subscriber Badge on Thursday January 12 2017, @02:27AM (#452817) Journal

      Congress is a Republican majority now. First they tried to kill their ethics watchdog. They were going to do prostitutes eventually, though didn't think it'd be this soon. Expect they'll go after abortion and same sex marriage at some point. Might take a swipe at evolution when they try to shut down research into Climate Change. Probably bang the war drums once they're settled in, and the military will trash some pitiful little nation that is no threat whatsoever to the US. Might be Syria. Yemen could be a candidate. Libya is another possibility. Or, could "surge" in Afghanistan and Iraq, while blaming Obama for cutting back.

      All this will serve to distract their supporters from all the fraud, corruption, larceny they're going to ignore that their "friends" on Wall Street and in the Prison and Military Industrial Complex do.

      • (Score: 3, Touché) by Thexalon on Thursday January 12 2017, @03:42AM

        by Thexalon (636) on Thursday January 12 2017, @03:42AM (#452834)

        They were going to do prostitutes eventually

        Nah, the Republicans are a bit more traditional and will probably just do their secretaries.

        --
        The inverse of "I told you so" is "Nobody could have predicted"
        • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 12 2017, @07:15AM

          by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 12 2017, @07:15AM (#452868)

          What? Does no one remember Jeff Gannon? Fake ex-Marine cut top? The one who visited Karl Rove in the Whitehouse on multiple occasions? Republicans kill their secretaries (or interns, a la Joe Scarborough), and have sex with steaming hunks of love of the same sex. Karl Rove! Karl Rove! Say it like you means it! Squeal like a pig, Karl Rove! And, the Donald having Royal Golden Showers with Russian prostitutes of questionable gender. "Oh, my!", as George Takei would say. (But, he wouldn't. This is just too perverted.)

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 12 2017, @02:27AM

      by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 12 2017, @02:27AM (#452818)

      Slavery is illegal, and immoral. Sex slavery even more so. There was this thing called "The Civil War" in America, and evidently you can still shame the Japanese government about it. Moreover, think of the children! Did you not see the movie, "Little Miss Sunshine"? Pervs all around, dude!

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 12 2017, @03:58AM

      by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 12 2017, @03:58AM (#452837)

      Prostitution is not illegal under federal law, but you can't expect congress to be specific about federal law.

      Child prostitution is however not legal, nor is human trafficking, depending on exactly what is happening.

      Backpage wasn't convicted of a crime, issued a court injunction, or censored in any way. When Congress produces a report that says they might be complicit in child prostitution, they shut down rather than defend against the accusation.

      I'm all in favor of innocent until proven guilty, but this seems more like cockroaches scurrying away from the light.

      • (Score: 3, Informative) by takyon on Thursday January 12 2017, @04:07AM

        by takyon (881) <takyonNO@SPAMsoylentnews.org> on Thursday January 12 2017, @04:07AM (#452838) Journal

        When Congress produces a report that says they might be complicit in child prostitution, they shut down rather than defend against the accusation. I'm all in favor of innocent until proven guilty, but this seems more like cockroaches scurrying away from the light.

        They are continuing to fight various legal battles related to the adult section and they have won numerous times (see Supreme Court note in summary and on this story [soylentnews.org]). For all we know, the shutdown was done on the advice of their lawyers and is temporary (or they intend it to be temporary):

        The company vowed to continue its legal battles, which have become an important test for the entire internet industry of whether online platforms can be held liable for the content posted on their sites.

        [...] In its announcement on Monday, Backpage cited praise from law enforcement agencies and child-protection organizations who said the site had been helpful in rooting out human trafficking.

        "Like the decision by Craigslist to remove its adult category in 2010, this announcement is the culmination of years of effort by government at various levels to exert pressure on Backpage.com and to make it too costly to continue," it said.

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      • (Score: 2) by Anal Pumpernickel on Thursday January 12 2017, @09:59PM

        by Anal Pumpernickel (776) on Thursday January 12 2017, @09:59PM (#453084)

        I'm all in favor of innocent until proven guilty, but [...]

        But you're not. If you bully someone enough using the nearly unlimited resources of the government, they're eventually going to crack even if they have a lot of money; it's an obvious strategy to punish someone you hate who is not actually doing anything illegal. Even if they did give up, that's not proof of wrongdoing.

  • (Score: 1, Insightful) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 12 2017, @08:58AM

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 12 2017, @08:58AM (#452887)

    When we're talking about the ADULT section

    • (Score: 1) by ewk on Thursday January 12 2017, @01:48PM

      by ewk (5923) on Thursday January 12 2017, @01:48PM (#452931)

      In the ADULT-section you post FOR adults... (apparently) not necessarily ABOUT adults...

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      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 12 2017, @02:05PM

        by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 12 2017, @02:05PM (#452936)

        Don't forget the underrepresented child buyers of adult services: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0110516/ [imdb.com]

  • (Score: 1, Insightful) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 12 2017, @04:22PM

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 12 2017, @04:22PM (#452966)

    What you are seeing here is the usual prohibition tactics: take an activity that is not in itself harmful, use some extreme example of criminality or "bad stuff" associated with this activity in a very small percentage of cases, and prohibit all legitimate, non-harmful cases by saying they are ALL just like the extreme cases.

    I can reduce it to the word "demonizing." In Sweden, the have demonized male prostitution customers and now only THEY are the criminals, not even the prostitutes who are plying their trade, as if they play no part in the affair. It has been reduced in those countries to "men are a problem." As a thought experiment, imagine if people could -sell- weed and keep the money, but if you buy it, -you- get arrested. Insane.

    If only we could HONESTLY study past and current examples of prostitution and compare outcomes where it is legal and illegal and make make informed decisions...

    I think we need to recognize that there are different ways to be a prostitute, and some are better than others.
    Streetwalkers are the worst. They are exposed to more danger and generally the most messed up women are in this type of prostitution. I have no problem with outlawing this by regulation.

    Trading sex for money is as old as humanity. It is even respectable as long as you marry your rich sugar daddy. As an example, I give you Donald Trump's wives. (Not picking on Donald in particular.)

    Go after the thugs in the business and leave the rest alone, I say.