Proposed Sex Trafficking Law Threatens Open Internet, Silicon Valley Warns

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The Internet Association, a Washington, D.C. -based lobbying organization that represents the aforementioned tech giants and a number of other internet companies, says the Justice Department "must hold criminal actors and facilitators of human trafficking - including rogue operators like Backpage.com - responsible to the fullest extent of the law".

The bill would make it tougher for Backpage and similar websites to use Internet law and the First Amendment to claim they are merely online publishers, little different from Google, news websites or apartment-ad sites.

In fact, on the very day that Backpage sued Hawley, July 11, "The Washington Post published a stunning exposé concluding that Backpage does in fact create and control the content of human-trafficking ads on its website, and that Backpage's attorneys have deceived federal courts on this issue for years", Hawley, a Republican, says in the complaint.

Portman has been passionate about combating child sex trafficking, including hosting showings around OH of the documentary film "I Am Jane Doe", about the suspected role of Backpage in the problem. The classifieds company has successfully argued that the federal Communications Decency Act protects sites from liability for illegal ads posted by users.

New legislation introduce by U.S. Senators may be prove to be an important tool in fight sex trafficking. "The search terms used by Backpage to identify and scrub posts for this process highlight the depraved nature of the "services" that Backpage actively concealed, including numerous buzzwords associated with sex trafficking of minors".

Hawley launched his high-profile investigation of the national classified ad website earlier this year.

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When Backpage refused to comply with a congressional subpoena for company records during the Portman-McCaskill investigation, marking a rare instance of contempt of Congress, the Senate went to court and won a court order.

In January, Backpage shuttered its "adult" ads section, which observers said mainly contained prostitution ads.

The website that they're specifically targeting is Backpage.com, which a Senate panel accused of knowingly advertising sex trafficking on its website. "We've got a lot of people addicted to opioids... some of those are girls and women who end up getting into this sex trafficking dependency, and this is an attempt to pass a sensible law that allows these girls and women and their families to be able to get justice finally", he said. "In December, the president signed legislation into law that included authorizing language for the initiative", officials said.

The Silicon Valley trade group Internet Association is warning against a proposed law aimed at curbing sex trafficking, warning that the measure "jeopardizes bedrock principles of a free and open internet". But the rights of publishers are not absolute, and as the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 1986, the fact that a bookstore was in front of a NY brothel did not mean the premises couldn't be ordered closed. Or will the bill reach other online services?

Several are former prosecutors or attorneys general who criticized Backpage harshly during Senate hearings over the a year ago.

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