Misguided Senators Propose Plan To Make It Harder For Law Enforcement To Track Down Human Trafficking Online

from the you're-doing-it-wrong dept

We've been covering the bizarre (mostly publicity-motivated) attacks on the Village Voice's Backpage.com site for a while. Those efforts have been ramping up, and every day I seem to get press releases from some ridiculous group that is apparently coordinating this misguided and dangerous attack. It appears that some of the silly publicity stunt is working, with Senators Richard Blumenthal, Mark Kirk, John Cornyn, Sheldon Whitehouse and Marco Rubio all supporting a "resolution" demanding Backpage take down its "adult entertainment" section. We've seen this battle before. Craigslist went through the same ridiculous moral panic a few years ago. And all it did was drive all of this traffic elsewhere -- with a lot of it settling on Backpage. Of course, that effort was led by then Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal, before he became a Senator -- so it's no surprise that he's involved in this pointeless effort as well.

Here's the thing: we already know how this game plays out. You can browbeat these companies into shutting off this part of their forums against their own will, and many of them will cave. And you'll celebrate victory, but as you do that, everyone will be rapidly exploring alternatives, which most will move to pretty quickly. In other words, such a crackdown won't do a damn thing to stop people from actually being exploited. Even worse, in pressuring that content to scatter, it becomes much more difficult for law enforcement to track down and arrest the real criminals who are abusing the system. But nothing in getting Backpage to turn off this section actually helps to stop such trafficking/prostitution. It just makes life that much more difficult for law enforcement, since they now need to do a lot more work to track down the people abusing these laws. I fail to see how that's a positive result, as the government has insisted.

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  1. icon
    TasMot (profile), 3 May 2012 @ 11:10am

    Re: I agree...but also disgree

    I am not "nannied" by those politicians but I can categorically state that what they are doing will achieve nothing. In Baltimore, there was a famous red light district "The Block", many many "strip clubs", which was actually about 8 blocks long. At one end was the Baltimore City Police Central Station. A while ago, the politicians decided to "clean up" the block because there was too much prostitution going on and they wanted to stop it. So, after denying permits for alchohol, health code violations and other trumped up charges, most of the bars and adult bookstores closed on the "The Block". Then, the bars and adult book stores opened in other places and the prostitutes moved up to the block where the court house was and on to other streets and neighborhoods. All you had to do was watch the papers and/or ask around and it was easy to find out where they relocated. There "may" be less, but now it is harder to find because it is not all in one place. It is not done in one place where everybody knows where it is and next to a police station (where could the girls be safer from abuse and watched for being underage than right next to a police station?). Now, the streetwalkers have to be on the go and in other neighborhoods (which I'm sure is good for the neighbors). But, the politicians of yesteryear (who the hell were they), go to play whack a mole and not achieve anything. Yeah for useless politicians and could you please stop and give me back some of my money?

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