Backpage Tells Attorneys General That They Won't Give In To Censorship Demand

from the good-for-them dept

On Tuesday, we wrote about how a group of grandstanding state attorneys general had moved on from blaming Craigslist for the actions of its users, now that they had successfully censored that site, and began demanding similar censorship for, the online classifieds from Village Voice Media. As a few people have sent in, Backpage does not seem interested in backing down, posting a public response and pointing out that they are operating perfectly in accordance with the law, that even the AGs admit that Backpage cooperates with law enforcement, and that the AGs would be better served going after those actually involved in the activities, rather than blaming third parties:

While no system is perfect, even the AGs acknowledge’s good-faith cooperation with law enforcement.

In the last two years, users have posted 58 million ads and only 6 million in the adult services section. Federal and state authorities have called on to testify in just five cases involving alleged abuse of underage persons. continues to respond to valid subpoenas from law enforcement officials whose job it is to investigate, apprehend and prosecute criminals who wrongfully post illegal ads and victimize others. is disappointed that the AGs have determined to shift blame from criminal predators to a legal business operator in an apparent attempt to capitalize on political opportunity during the election season.

They also note: “Censorship will not create public safety nor will it rid the world of exploitation.”

Of course, rather than recognizing any of this and maybe backing down, Connecticut Attorney General (and Senate candidate) Richard Blumenthal responded in typically misleading fashion:

“I am deeply disappointed by this unfortunate and unfounded resistance to taking common-sense steps toward protecting women and children. I am hopeful that the company will reconsider its resistance and do the right thing. I will consult with my fellow attorneys general and consider possible next steps.”

Notice that he does not respond to any of the actual points raised. He does not respond to the fact that shutting down these services won’t do anything to help protect women and children and will almost certainly make the problem worse. He just pretends that the world is the exact opposite of what it is. It’s as if Richard Blumenthal thinks that everyone out there is incredibly dumb and believes the world works as he says it does, rather than how it actually works.

Filed Under: , , , ,
Companies: backpage, village voice

Rate this comment as insightful
Rate this comment as funny
You have rated this comment as insightful
You have rated this comment as funny
Flag this comment as abusive/trolling/spam
You have flagged this comment
The first word has already been claimed
The last word has already been claimed
Insightful Lightbulb icon Funny Laughing icon Abusive/trolling/spam Flag icon Insightful badge Lightbulb icon Funny badge Laughing icon Comments icon

Comments on “Backpage Tells Attorneys General That They Won't Give In To Censorship Demand”

Subscribe: RSS Leave a comment
Dark Helmet (profile) says:


Blumenthal is chiefly notable for filing politically motivated lawsuits. From Wikipedia:

“In 2007, Hans Bader, Counsel for Special Projects of the Competitive Enterprise Institute (a libertarian think-tank) ranked Blumenthal as “the nation’s worst state attorney general”, based on “a set of explicit criteria — such as encroachment on the powers of other branches of government, meddling in the affairs of other states or federal agencies, encouragement of judicial activism and frivolous lawsuits, favoritism towards campaign contributors, ethical breaches, and failure to provide representation to state agencies or to provide legal advice.””

He’s noted for being heavily involved in the completely useless 1998 Tobacco settlements as well.

He also claimed to have served in Vietnam, while the actual evidence shows that he “got at least five deferments that kept him out of the war”. (via CBS News)

He also has claimed several times that he has never taken PAC money for his campaigns, when the evidence shows ” that he has accepted $480,000 in political action committee money since he made that claim in January. Moreover, his Republican opponent, former World Wrestling Entertainment CEO Linda McMahon, points to nearly $17,000 Blumenthal received as a state legislative candidate in the 1980s — a figure Blumenthal’s campaign does not dispute.” (via Associated Press)

In other words, he’s a liar, a grandstander, and a schemer. What else should we expect?

Dark Helmet (profile) says:

Re: Re: Bah...

Well, you have to look who he’s been running against. Here in America, we’re oftened presented with a fantastic voter’s option: A Flaming Douche vs. a Turd Sandwich.

In the current race, it’s Blumenthal vs. Linda McMahon, noted executive of World Wrestling Entertainment.

The Terminator got elected governor of California. A porn star was running for office down south. We’ve had more Bush’s and Clintons in various offices in this country during the last 20 years than I care to mention, and the fact that anyone named Rockefeller is still being elected makes me sick.


Yogi says:

Re: Re: Re: Bah...

I see what you mean. I guess that’s what happens when you are not threatened with extinction 24/7. I envy you. I can’t wait for the moment a pornstar runs for office here. I’m guessing that will occur the same day Jesus resurrects and King David comes back holding hands with Muhammad and they all go out for brunch (hummus, tahina and shish kabob) in Gethsemane…

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Bah...

I live in suburban/rural Connecticut, and although I hated Blumenthal from the start, I’ve changed my opinion slightly after Linda McMahon decided to show up at my town of 3,000’s 4th of July parade, which was held on the 5th.

Both Blumenthal and Linda McMahon were there in person, and after seeing them up close and hearing them talk, in my expert opinion, Linda McMahon is a much bigger douche than Blumenthal. Hopefully he’ll realize that people don’t vote for him because of his grandstanding, but simply because the Republican option is repulsive and unelectable.

Also, the biggest turnoff was the fact that McMahon and her campaign aids were practically forcing their campaign stickers on everyone who didn’t want them, all while McMahon maintained her creepy smile.

Sorry for the slightly off topic post, but it just sucks to have someone like Blumenthal be the better option for a senator, a proportional representation system like in many EU countries would be nice to eliminate the two party block.

CommonSense (profile) says:

Re: Re: Bah...

No! The guy is a total clown, and I say this as a CT resident. His commercials on TV don’t tell you how much of an ass clown he is, and most residents don’t go out of their way to find information on candidates. It’s a pretty sad state of affairs really, but other than standing on a soap box screaming “Think of the Children” and trying to tell people he does good things on TV, he does nothing of value. Personally, I’d like to seem him fall off the face of the Earth. Professionally, I’m moving out of CT if he gets elected to the Senate.

The Infamous Joe (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

Exactly! Illegal prostitution is a fairly recent problem, dating back only to circa 1995, when online classifieds began to appear on the scene. It is only logical to assume, then, that if we shut down the adult sections on these sites, we would be cutting off the life lines of illegal prostitution and it would no longer be a problem.

My only fear is that there are slightly more intelligent pimps out there posting coded messages in other sections. How do I know that the futon

This solid piece of craftsmanship is 18 years old, but can take a beating. Not much to look at, but can take on three at once comfortably. $25 OBO

I’m thinking of buying isn’t *really* advertising prostitution?? That’s why I’m definitely on board with shutting down sites like these all together. It’s good for the newspapers, too!

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

You basically destroyed your own argument. Close down the online classifieds, and a (slightly more intelligent) pimp will find another way to sell his “product”, probably in ways that are much more difficult to locate and trace.

The problem still exists and actually got worse, but at least _you_ can’t see it anymore. Bet that makes you feel safer.

The Infamous Joe (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

You know, Blue-fifties-era-diner-dingy-floor-tiles AC, I was worried that this would happen. I said to myself, “Joe, this sarcasm might be too subtle for the casual reader, maybe you should make it more obvious.” but then I thought to myself, “No, I started with a statement saying that prostitution has only been around since circa 1995, no one would miss the sarcasm there!”

So, here we are. This is awkward.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

Right, just bury your head in the sand and pretend the problem does not exist.

What we should do is seek out those committing these atrocities, not wasting our energies attacking the tools they use.

A tool is a tool. A hammer can be used to build a house, the same way it can be used to kill a man.

What you suggest is banning the use of hammers instead of arresting murderers. The end result is that murderers just switch to screwdrivers to do their murdering and you have to start all over again.

weneedhelp (profile) says:

unfounded resistance

That pesky 1st Amendment thingie getting in the way again.

unfounded resistance. Say it again, unfounded resistance.

unfounded resistance = crazy

common-sense steps toward protecting = Allow us to trample the pesky Constitution.

I am hopeful that the company will reconsider its resistance = I hope they come to their senses, because they are crazy.

I will consult with my fellow attorneys general and consider possible next steps= We know there is nothing legally we can do, so we will find something else.

I am surprised he didn’t pull out the “radical” A-bomb.

Matthew (profile) says:

But how...

But how do you effectively communicate this sort of information to voters? At first glance the AG’s actions seem like an effort to do something about the problem and their campaigns can very easily spin criticism of it as “soft on child prostitution.”

I don’t think most voters are smart enough to understand this argument. How could anyone effectively convey to them that the AG’s grandstanding is actually hurting the people he’s claiming to protect without coming across as a kiddie-porn-loving pervert?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: But how...

Turn the tables. Accuse him of being the pervert. Say he is doing so to make the police job harder and protect the evil guys by making them harder to catch.

Yes, it is a lie. What he is doing will have that effect, but it is not his intention, or at least we hope so. But it is as big a lie as the one they would use. Neither side actually wants to protect the molesters, or at least we hope so.

Spuds (profile) says:

Dumb people...

“It’s as if Richard Blumenthal thinks that everyone out there is incredibly dumb and believes the world works as he says it does, rather than how it actually works.”

But people *ARE* dumb. There are many, many people out there that don’t know how legitimate and constructive debate works, and they are guided solely by how they FEEEEEL about something. You only have to play to their emotions to get action, which is something Blumenthal does well.

Most people don’t want constructive debate. They want to feel good about themselves and they want to feel like someone is taking action. They want to feel like someone has stood up and said something for them. And Blumenthal does. He says plenty. He just doesn’t address the facts. But that doesn’t matter to most people. As long as they feel good and righteous, everything’s okay.

Christopher (profile) says:

Re: Dumb people...

Not in my opinion. Frankly, I’ll be blunt: I look at these stuff about pedosexuals and prostitutes in the same light that I do heterosexuals outside of marriage and homosexuals.

The same BS that they are trying to use to demonize the former was tried with the latter, and it was exposed as a bunch of LIES over a period of years.

The anti-pedosexuals and anti-prostitutes are NOT trying to protect children and prostitutes. If they wanted to do that, they would bring pedosexuality and prostitution out into the open and legalize them, instead of forcing them into the darkness where people can be impaled with a sword and no one will ever know.

99% of the problems with those two things can be DIRECTLY linked to trying to keep children IGNORANT (not innocent, there is no such thing) of sex and keeping prostitution illegal.

vivaelamor (profile) says:

Re: Re: Dumb people...

“If they wanted to do that, they would bring pedosexuality and prostitution out into the open and legalize them”

Just to clarify, I would presume that you mean legalise the attraction to children (which is currently considered an offence in itself), rather than anything physical. Although I can see an argument for looking at the whole age of consent thing too. You have to marvel when the age of consent in the UK is lower than in the land of liberty. At least they have their guns..

arrgster says:

You have to simplify

You have to simplify it for most people. for example say:

blaming for a sex ad involving children would be like blaming ford for someone driving drunk in one of their cars. Lets say the result of the DUI is the death of a small family including children. Would you go after the guy driving drunk or Ford?

Now yes, A few people out there that would say Ford should put breathalyzers in all their cars to prevent this, but this is where the “lets be realistic” argument comes in. There has to be a line where people are held accountable for their actions. Companies are not the police nor do I want them to be.

So to stop this BS from these guys, these companies need to run ad campaigns that say things like “would you blame Ford for a DUI accent”

BearGriz72 (profile) says:

Re: You have to simplify

There has to be a line where people are held accountable for their actions

What? My God, NO! This is America, how dare you want to hold people accountable for their own actions. This is the land of the frivolous lawsuit and sleazy defense lawyer, where nobody has to be responsible for anything, because there is always someone else to blame.

After all when kids commit heinous crimes, who is responsible? The makers of every video game they’ve ever played, of course. This is the place you want to be when you want to argue at a murder trial that you should be found not guilty of killing your wife because you were under the influence of caffeine at the time. This is the land where a convicted thief can sue whomever he robbed after all.

Anonymous Coward says:

How about some public interest group with a large advertising budget going after these attorneys general and claiming that THEY (the AGs) have no interest in keeping women and children safe, since they’re deliberately trying to sabotage their best tools to catch those preying on them? Indeed, one wouldn’t be amiss to assume that the AGs are in league with the child traffickers, since they seem to be turning a blind eye towards prosecuting them, and are actively seeking to destroy links to them which could aid in their prosecution

Christopher (profile) says:

Good for Backpage. I never understood why Craigslist gave in so easily on this issue. It just didn’t make sense, and the Attorney Generals were shooting themselves in the foot if they TRULY thought that people putting these ads on Craigslist were ‘dangerous’ (with almost all pedosexuals, a dramatic LIE of the worst sort) by sending them somewhere else like to TOR that might be ‘more secure’.

darryl says:

Free speech and human rights.

While no system is perfect, even the AGs acknowledge’s good-faith cooperation with law enforcement.

In the last two years, users have posted 58 million ads and only 6 million in the adult services section.

So great, to put it another way, over 10% of our total revinue is from ‘adult services’ what OVER 3 MILLION ADDS PER YEAR..

No bad scratch, for a super-PIMP.

Ofcourse it aiding and abetting crime, its inciting crime (therefore not protected by first amendment). Its clearly illegal.

But backpage makes squillions of dollars from it, and that is why they dont want to stop it..

Maybe Backpage should get a new PR guy, making statements like the above is really stupid.

basically stating that 3 million adds per year are for these ‘services’ shows that its a huge money spinner.

And with that many adds, how does that explain how it is easier to find and convict those crims who break the law and advertise. Its not happening now, and they are advertising NOW.

So claiming that taking the adds offline will stop law enforcement is a joke.

Allowing crimes to be commited with your knowledge is aiding crime, and inciting crime.

You dont open all the safes in a bank and fire all the security guards so its easier for a bank robber to rob, (and therefore easier to find them).

You stop the crime before it occures, and a part of that is making it illegal to commit that crime, and illigal to promote, incite or aid the committing of a crime.

Its a nasty and higly egocentric look to consider your free speech rights are a justification for allowing crimes to be committed, promoted, and partially justified.

The only people who would want to fight hard for this cause are those that take advantage of those services, or who profit from it..
And you really dont want to be in that camp, trying to justify what is essentially a human rights issue.

So your ‘free speech’ trumps the people forced into prostitution’s human rights.. Nice attitude mike…. !!!

The eejit (profile) says:

Re: Free speech and human rights.

Dude, I don’t often say but it’s twice now: STFU, you’re talking bollocks.

The AGs HAVE ALREADY STATED that co-operates fully. Repeatedly. So why now, are they going after it when it already co-operates? it discouragtes further co-operation, and I’ve e-mailed the Connecticut AG office to explain why.

Anon says:


Um, if someone turns in a criminal how is that considered “enabling” or “helping” a crime? I think most criminals would consider that “not helping” – (Blade Runner : I mean you’re not helping). Aside from safe harbor, actively turning evidence to the Feds and DAs office as well as terms of service providing notice that illegal activities will be handed to the authorities – what part of non-complicit do these morons not understand? Oh right election year. Time to waste some time and money.

Add Your Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here

Comment Options:

Make this the or (get credits or sign in to see balance) what's this?

What's this?

Techdirt community members with Techdirt Credits can spotlight a comment as either the "First Word" or "Last Word" on a particular comment thread. Credits can be purchased at the Techdirt Insider Shop »

Follow Techdirt

Techdirt Daily Newsletter

Techdirt Deals
Techdirt Insider Discord
The latest chatter on the Techdirt Insider Discord channel...