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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: 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?

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  • (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.

      --
      [SIG] 10/28/2017: Soylent Upgrade v14 [soylentnews.org]
    • (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.