Advertising website Backpage.com, which includes small ads for sex workers, won an appeal on the 14 th of March, 2016. The ruling states that Backpage is not responsible for any trafficking that may happen because of the advertisements on their website.
Backpage provides free or cheap advertisements and has been used a lot by sex workers since the removal of Craigslist in 2010. Ads are moved to the front using Bitcoin transactions after credit card companies were pressured to stop working for the
website. In recent years, the website has been subject to multiple lawsuits in different states. The website has also been subject to hearings in the United States Congress, as NSWP reported here .
Three young women who alleged they
had been trafficked through ads on Backpage brought the civil case forward. They were all minors at the time the events occurred. As Mike Masnick reports at Techdirt , the case alleged that Backpage was responsible for this activity under the Trafficking
Victims Protection Reauthorisation Act (TVPRA) of 2008. The TVPRA states that, anyone who "knowingly benefits, financially or by receiving anything of value from participation in a venture which that person knew or should have known has
engaged" in an act of sex trafficking.
However, Backpage argued that they were not responsible because they are protected through section 230 of the Communications Decency Act. Section 230 states that websites are not responsible
for the actions of their users.
The three women argued that Backpage was aware of and encouraged sex trafficking on their website. The court did not accept this assessment, upholding their protection under section 230.
The CEO of Craigslist-style classified ad website Backpage.com may be the first person in 20 years to be found in contempt of US Congress.
Carl Ferrer was subpoenaed by a Senate subcommittee back in October to answer questions over allegations that
his site was responsible for nearly three-quarters of all reported child sex trafficking ads. He refused to attend.
The subcommittee responded by formally approving a contempt motion that will be reviewed by the full Senate, likely this week. If
approved, it will be the first time since 1995 that such a motion has been passed.