Earlier this year the state of Washington passed Senate Bill 6251 into law. In a nutshell, the law required websites and publications doing business in the state of Washington to verify the ages of the women being advertised in ‘escort’ ads. Almost immediately Village Voice Media, which owned Backpage at the time, sued to have the law blocked. They won.
More recently a few weeks ago not only has Washington given up on SB 6251, but they’ve also agreed to pay Backpage $200K for legal fees. That’s not just a devastating loss for you know…freedom, but it adds insult to injury to a state that is trying its best to stop online sex trafficking of women and children.
While Backpage continues to make money off the exploited women and children in the adult section of their site Attorney General Rob McKenna sums up what the stumbling block is in trying to deal with sites like Backpage…
“But unless Congress acts to revise the section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, an appeal will be extremely challenging and costly. It is unfortunate that because of this ruling, Backpage will continue to profit from sex ads for kids and others. Congress must revisit the CDA in order to close a loophole that allows companies such as Backpage to make millions advertising an illegal service that takes a particularly devastating toll on children,”
A man after my own heart. As I’m fond of saying the Communications Decency Act was signed into law in 1996. That was the infancy of a publicly available internet. Do you remember the internet in 1996? I wasn’t even on it yet, but it dredges up memories of dial-up modems, AOL discs, and Netscape. How much has the internet evolved in the past 16 years? Shouldn’t the CDA evolve along with it? And again what is more important, Backpage’s ‘right’ to make money from sexual slavery or the rights of the women and children on their pages not to be sold?