Backpage.com’s Publicity Stunt Before Senate Hearing Will Not Curb or End Online Child Sex Trafficking
Last night, just hours after the U.S. Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations issued a damning report, the operators of Backpage.com abruptly shut down its “adult” section in the United States, disingenuously posting "CENSORED" in big red letters on the site and claiming that "the government has unconstitutionally censored this content." In fact, Backpage.com and its principals also face criminal charges in California for money laundering and conspiracy to commit pimping. The Senate's report links Backpage.com to child sex trafficking and cites clear evidence of wrongdoing.
We are sorry to report that Backpage.com's empty gesture does nothing to protect children. A quick review indicates that the ads selling sex were moved to the "dating" section of its website. Backpage.com still operates worldwide, with a $9 million monthly profit from sex ads—including ads that sell children. The owners and operators of Backpage.com are facing growing pressure to end its child trafficking from a wide range of government and private entities, including Legal Momentum and our counsel David Boies, of the law firm Boies, Schiller and Flexner.
At today's U.S. Senate hearing investigating Backpage.com, Backpage.com's officers and counsel refused to answer even basic questions, pleading the Fifth Amendment. The Senate reviewed more than one million documents in investigating Backpage.com's operations and stated that there is evidence in its report that will enable law enforcement entities and lawyers around the country to hold Backpage.com accountable.
Backpage.com’s misleading claims of censorship are merely a smokescreen. The real issue is about an online marketplace that facilitates enslavement of children. Legal Momentum will continue to work aggressively with its public and private partners to end the local and global commercial sexual exploitation of children online. We will not rest until all kids are safe!
About Legal Momentum
Legal Momentum is a 501 (c)(3) nonprofit organization founded in 1970 to advance the rights of women by using the power of the law and creating innovative public policy in three broad areas: economic justice, freedom from gender-based violence and equality under the law. For more information visit www.legalmomentum.org.