As Backpage has all of their operations and computer servers located in the United States, this seems to be a serious error in judgement on the part of the owners and chief officers of the company. This suggests that Backpage has misrepresented their business activities to the courts in these past cases. However, in our opinion, the principals of Backpage are running for cover due to their past questionable behavior, which the Senate report has exposed. What the senate report found was that Backpage took ads that they knew were illegal or were probably illegal, and changed the ads to make them look legal, and then published those ads on their web site.
There have been repeated court cases brought against Backpage in various states, example one , example two , example three , but each time BP has won those cases, relying in large part on section of the CDA, that indemnifies them, because they are not responsible for the content that others publish on their site. Actively publishing ads that you know to originally contain questionable content, especially content suggesting prostitution with minors as terms such as lolita suggest , is a recipe for disaster. We expect that Backpage is going to be hit with a variety of criminal complaints from aggressive district attorneys. What the senate report found was that Backpage took ads that they knew were illegal or were probably illegal, and changed the ads to make them look legal, and then published those ads on their web site. Backpage obviously has a large legal fund to defend themselves, but based on the senate report, we would be surprised if they continue to be in business for much longer. Pressure has been brought to bear upon Mastercard and Visa not to take money from Backpage. However, is this what actually happened? In effect, Backpage became the actual publisher of escort ads. As much as we all complain about the inefficiencies of the US congress, the CDA has turned out to be a fantastic piece of law, and has been instrumental in the rise of companies as diverse as Google in particular Youtube , Facebook, Amazon and Ebay. Yes, escorting is legal, but as we all know, prostitution, that is the explicit trading of money for sexual favors among adults, is not legal in the United States and in some other countries in the world. In all cases when Backpage edited the ads and then published them, they did so without interacting with the original poster. On the other hand, the user that originally posted the content can be held liable if that content is found to be illegal. This editing took place both manually and automatically with a computer script that scanned ads during the publishing process. However, in our opinion, the principals of Backpage are running for cover due to their past questionable behavior, which the Senate report has exposed. Yes, Backpage has definitely been harassed by various sections of the US government. There has been no government order for Backpage. The senate report details how over time Backpage has changed their position internally on how they deal with questionable ads. We imagine that given the time constraints, there is likely more dirt to be uncovered. It seems to detail activity conducted by Backpage employees which is illegal under the United States law. The prostitution of minors is illegal in nearly every country in the world, as is the forced prostitution of people commonly referenced as sex trafficking or human trafficking. The CDA further protects companies that engage in a good faith screening or blocking of material, that is posted by their users or other content providers that the ISPs have found to be objectionable. So why is Backpage. This suggests that Backpage has misrepresented their business activities to the courts in these past cases. What the senate report states is that BP is the actual publisher of the illegal content, and is thus responsible for it. Why did they take down their escort ads? At some points in time they rejected questionable ads, at other points they manually edited the ads, and then published them; other times they had an automatic filter on user ads that removed phrases that looked illegal and then published the ads. Backpage has made hundreds of millions of dollars from the publishing of escort ads, this gives lots of incentive for zealous district attorneys to prosecute Backpage.
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