Published: Sun, April 08, 2018
World | By Camille Rivera

Feds seize Backpage.com, websites in enforcement action

Feds seize Backpage.com, websites in enforcement action

In a message posted to Backpage.ca on Friday, federal authorities said the websites were seized as part of an enforcement action by the FBI, the U.S. Postal Service, the IRS and with assistance from the Joint Regional Intelligence Center.

What happened? According to CBS News, the US Department of Justice has seized the website because it views Backpage as a sex trafficking, money laundering criminal organization.

The site shut down its "adult" section previous year under legal pressure, but sex workers had largely migrated to other parts of the site. The Federal Bureau of Investigation has shut down backpage.com, the second largest classified ad service in the country after Craigslist that is used primarily to sell sex.

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But the site has since then faced a slew of other lawsuits alleging child sex trafficking.

While a Senate report in 2017 alleged that Backpage was concealing evidence of sex trafficking, people who say they work in the sex industry by choice argue that the site helps them stay safe. If this is true, it is a major blow to those involved in trafficking, as it shuts down a major avenues for people to connect with escorts.

Ferrer, 55, was charged with pimping a minor, pimping and conspiracy to commit pimping, according to NPR.

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A notice on the website's homepage said the FBI, the U.S. Department of Justice's Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section, and several other federal departments had seized the site.

Executives from backpage.com insist they are protected by the Communications Decency Act which regulates pornographic material on the Internet, and suggests that the law states that the sites can't be held responsible for content created by third parties.

Last year, a coalition of state and territorial attorneys general asked Congress to make it easier for state and local law enforcement officials to investigate and prosecute online facilitators of child sex trafficking.

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Talking about the matter is Bradley Myles, CEO of the group behind the National Human Trafficking Hotline, who stated to Reuters that Backpage's seizure will have a significant impact on the sex trafficking marketplace. But until Friday the website had continued to operate, shielded by free speech protections.

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