In the state of Washington, law SB 6251 was set to take effect today. The law would require that sites like Backpage and papers like Village Voice Media publications would be required to verify the ages of the people in ‘escort’ ads. (ie, prostitution and trafficking ads)
Village Voice Media and Backpage being the stalwart defenders of the disadvantaged that they are not only sued to have the low blocked, they’ve won, for now. Once again the greedy cowards at VVM hide behind the federal Communications Decency Act. Now I’m no legal expert but the essence of the CDA was to protect site owners from when one of their troll users posted something criminal or inflammatory on their websites. What the CDA never accounted for was website owners making millions of dollars on women and children being forcibly sold into sex slavery. Not to mention that the CDA was passed in 1996. In terms of internet years that was a lifetime ago. That’s when people were still using dial-up to connect to their AOL accounts on 28.8K modems. The internet has evolved so much in that time yet the CDA is stuck in the era of the dancing baby. It’s an archaic law that is in desperate need of a modern upgrade.
Of course, we have a quote from Backpage’s new head legal weasel Liz McDougall about how the fine folks at Backpage shit puppies and rainbows…
Company lawyer Liz McDougall said that Backpage is “an online industry leader in working cooperatively with law enforcement to identify, arrest and prostitute…I mean prosecute human traffickers,” and that Washington’s law would force criminal conduct back underground, where it’s harder to track.
“The trafficking of children for sex is an abomination,” she said in a written statement. “I believe aggressive improvements in technology and close collaboration between the online service community, law enforcement and (nongovernmental organizations) is the best approach to fighting human trafficking.”
I may have altered the quote somewhat. Joking aside what she’s really saying is that this law interferes with Backpage and VVM making money hand over fist keeping their dead industry alive on the backs of rape victims. If Backpage were to shut down the adult section it would not make traffickers harder to track and it would decrease their numbers greatly. Backpage may be the leader of online trafficking today but they still don’t come close to the numbers that craigslist had at the height of their involvement in the sex trade. When sites like craigslist and Backpage shut down their erotic/adult sections the number of sex traffickers decreases. The harder you make the threshold of entry higher for traffickers to post online it would greatly decrease their presence.