State AGs Now Targeting Backpage After Forcing Craigslist To Stop Helping Them Pursue Lawbreakers

from the how-backwards-can-you-get? dept

We’ve already explain how the political grandstanding campaign against Craigslist, that got the company to shut down its “adult services” section based on no legal reason, does plenty to harm the people the various state attorneys general think they’re “helping.” Craigslist has been highly active in working with police to use the site to find and arrest those actually responsible for dangerous exploitation of children. But by shutting off that tool, the ads simply migrate to sites that are more underground and less willing to work with law enforcement. Apparently, though, the AGs are stuck on the political headlines, and don’t care at all for anyone’s actual safety.

So they’ve moved on to their next target: 21 state attorneys general have kicked off a grandstanding campaign against Backpage, the online classifieds arm of Village Voice Media (the same company that was just sued over the same issue). Once again, Backpage is one of the companies that has worked closely with law enforcement — and the AGs even admit that in their announcement demanding the company shut down the tool.

This is incredibly dumb and frustrating. In the pursuit of headlines falsely claiming that they’re “protecting” children, these AGs are only serving to attack the companies who help them track down those actually responsible for child exploitation and child prostitution. All they’re doing is making the problem worse. Those who are exploiting these kids in the worst possible way won’t stop doing it — they’ll just use other means to do so, in a way that’s harder for police to track them down and to capture them.

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Companies: backpage, craigslist, village voice

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Comments on “State AGs Now Targeting Backpage After Forcing Craigslist To Stop Helping Them Pursue Lawbreakers”

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Alan Gerow (profile) says:

It makes perfect sense. It’s not about actually helping anyone, but appearing to help. And for the constituents, it’s not about helping people they don’t know, but just getting the seedy stuff out of their eyesight so that they can more easily ignore the problem … thus in their personal life, the problem is solved because they don’t see it any more. It doesn’t actually matter if anyone’s life is actually saved, because it’s the VEIL of protection that matters to most people. They want a sense that something is being done to make THEIR life better … they couldn’t actually care less about the people being exploited.

Alan Gerow (profile) says:

Re: Re:

I guess what it comes down to is it’s not that people are upset that other people in the world are being exploited … it’s that they had to be made aware of it through Craigslist. And they had to be reminded about it every time they went to sell some lawn furniture. They simply want to be able to ignore the problem more easily … not actually fix anything.

out_of_the_blue says:

Re: GET A LIFE -- Flagging this points up remarks in #2 and 3.

Apparently this viewpoint is too much for some to bear merely *seeing*, though pro-war comments here pass without a flag, and it has only one euphemism versus the casual vulgarity many put up. I don’t see the objection, since it’s not even an advocacy, more a statement of obvious fact that life isn’t uniformly easy. Also, prostitution is the logical result of both libertarianism and capitalism.

By the way, your hiding mechanism doesn’t work without javascript enabled.

Anonymous Coward says:

I find it troubling that Attorneys General have such clout that they can intimidate companies like Craigslist and Backpage into complying with their demands. Instead of making threats based on what they think the law should be, AGs should build a case based on what the law actually is and then bring it to court. Defendants would then have the option to fight or settle according to their chances under the law.

The AGs gestapo-like policies have no place in a proper democracy.

Coward (Anon) says:


@9, no main stream media outlet will carry the story of AGs grandstanding on this issue because, unlike me, none of them are willing to be perceived as pro-prostitution. Hell, they won’t even cover the lies being told by those seeking election this fall (especially the tea-baggers). Me, I’m openly pro-prostitution and pro-death panels.

out_of_the_blue says:

AGs are against UN-organized crime.

We shouldn’t rule out that this action may be motivated by far worse hidden reasons: that AGs are in the pockets of the biggest criminals, who *always* use “laws” to suppress independents. It’s obvious that people rarely get high in gov’t unless they’re seriously corrupt and The Establishment has blackmail material on them. Just look at Elliot Spitzer. Speculation is that soon as he started targeting Wall Street, he was taken out by exposure of what was long known.

And for anyone who doesn’t think that pedophilia is rampant among the organized elite, I have just two words: Catholic Church.

Anon says:

Ever notice how they only attack companies where escort ads are a miniscule part of the company’s revenue stream? It shows how fearful the AGs are of actually going to court.

If they attacked a company whose sole source of revenue was escort ads, they company could justify spending every last dime on their defense since they have no other revenue stream without the ads.

I dare them to go after, it is the best escort ad website anyway.

Derek (profile) says:

This is hypothetical, but...

Wouldn’t it be interesting if there was some concrete accountability?

For example, Craigslist could counter-sue the AGs for restraint of trade, misuse of authority, or somesuch when, after a two-year test period, there’s no reduction in the specific crime at issue.

With the crime rate is unchanged, or even increased, the Attorneys General would have to reimburse the company for the revenue it lost (with interest), as well as repaying the state treasuries for the money spent on both sets of lawsuits.

Yeah, there would have to be trustworthy, independent statistics – a complete impossibility in this situation. But it’s hypothetical. The point is there’s no accountability, plus the perpetrators control the statistics.

If Craigslist et al have truly committed crimes, just charge them as such and let juries sort it out. Of course we all know that would morph into the AGs pushing state legislatures for new laws moving the goalposts. But maybe the whole thing would come to a quick end once a state was held liable for false or malicious prosecution.

Wolfy says:

All they’re doing is making the problem worse. Those who are exploiting these kids in the worst possible way won’t stop doing it — they’ll just use other means to do so, in a way that’s harder for police to track them down and to capture them.

There’s your problem! They’re just being nice to all of the law enforcement community by ensuring a high demand for their services.

ALL law enforcement agents will lie, even in court, if it furthers their aims. “To Protect and Serve” is only the first part of the “mission statement” the rest should read “our interests at all costs.”

hmm says:

This has nothing at all to do with pretending to protect the children:

step 1. remove all easily available “bad things” from the internet

step 2. demand harsh laws and internet “wire tapping” and recording of everything that everyone does “because we can’t find the evil people otherwise…they’re hiding”

step 3. complete control of the internet which is then given over to big media

Cipher-0 says:

NPR on CL and child trafficking

I was listening to the local NPR station the other day and they had a whole hour on CL and the child trafficking done via their now-defunct sexual board.

One of the guests commented on how CL was promoting child trafficking and how the Georgia police had made 2700 arrests based on CL postings in a single year.

Unfortunately, neither the commentator nor the other guest pointed out how this seems like CL is lining up these sons-of-bitches for plucking by law enforcement.

Her other statement was (paraphrasing) “The AGs and police are all for shutting CL sex boards down,” to which no one even leaned anywhere near, “So who cares what they think?”

known coward says:

exact same post on a different thread great savings at .25 per key stroke

The problem is backpage knowingly accept ads from prostitutes. They even have a section for escorts, and they are all paid ads. Yes i know, your local phone book has paid ads for esccorts, but in backpage the service providers pictures make fairly clear the service being provided. (and if i were in charge it would all be legal, but alas i am not)

At least prior to the AG’s making Craigslist take cash for the ads, Craigslist had no no prior involvement with the add prior to posting. With backpage that has never been true.

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