Techdirt Podcast Episode 230: Backpage v. The Feds

from the worse-than-we-thought dept

We've written a lot about Backpage ever since it replaced Craigslist as the favorite target of grandstanding prosecutors, and especially since it was used to help pass FOSTA. Now history's being rewritten to claim FOSTA took Backpage down, despite that not being the order in which things happened. The biggest issue, though, is that taking down these sites makes it harder to fight sex trafficking — and the feds know it. This week, we're joined by Reason's Elizabeth Nolan Brown to discuss documents she recently obtained in which federal investigators repeatedly acknowledge that Backpage helped them do their job, and wasn't run by a bunch of criminals.

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Filed Under: evidence, intermediary liability, section 230
Companies: backpage


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  • icon
    That One Guy (profile), 22 Oct 2019 @ 2:45pm

    When you care... but only for yourself

    Prosecutors/politicians to the public: We care about stopping sex trafficking!

    Also prosecutors/politicians, amongst themselves: Here's a site that bends over backwards to help catch sex traffickers and help their victims. They are regularly in contact with investigators to help them, and have implemented multiple processes to reduce and/or prevent sex trafficking, as well as spot what does slip through. While shutting it down will provide an easy PR 'win' to show how serious we are about sex trafficking doing so will cause immense damage to the ability to spot and catch sex traffickers, and all but ensure that no-one will be willing to help investigators in future sex trafficking cases such that the ability of investigators to catch sex traffickers and help their victims will be massively reduced.

    Politicians/Prosecutors to the public, after what I'm sure was at least several seconds of weighing PR vs catching criminals/helping their victims: Backpage is terrible, we shut down Backpage, look at how amazing we are and what we've done!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      sp5mrwnbtr, 23 Oct 2019 @ 9:36am

      Re: When you care... but only for yourself

      "When you care... but only for yourself"

      Yes, it's almost as if this was never about trafficking or children involved in sex work, but about a bunch of control freaks using the violence of the state to punish women for making sexual choices they don't personally approve of.

      That's just a cynical take. I mean, what kind of a sleazy, worthless piece of authoritarian filth would support such a thing.......

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
    identicon
    Don Zurley Light, 22 Oct 2019 @ 3:32pm

    Clearly you have a mania to advocate open prostitution.

    No other goal can explain your continuing on this for couple years now. You are not promoting "free speech" or any societally desirable goal, but prostitution. WHY?

    A) Backpage cynically played Federal lawyers pretending to help against child prostitution while open solicitation was obvious.

    B) Backpage could have taken the section down at any time as simply too sleazy. Didn't because wanted the money. Let them rot in jail for choosing wrong.

    C) Manifestly police were not using Backpage for arrests. SHOW NUMBERS OF ARRESTS VS. ADVERTISEMENTS, college boy. You make the assertion, burden of proof is yours. -- You are simply LYING to imply were ever more than token number of arrests, simply by the fact that no one would advertise if arrest were at all likely.

    D) You were and are wrong that CDA Section 230 protected Backpage (besides other corporations) from ALL liability / responsibility. Section 230 is NOT as you claim. Your goal is always corporations gaining money without societal responsibility.

    E) FOSTA clarifies Section 230. It's THE LAW. You keep flailing at it, futilely and foolishly, exposing your utter "libertarian" mania for allowing open prostitution. It's one of the few times you're honest. Keep it up.

    F) EVEN IF FOSTA WERE INEFFECTIVE, it's good for statement of societal intent and goals validated by centuries of experience. Of course it's opposed by legalist, leftist masnicks who are utterly indifferent to breakdown of civil society and human suffering so long as they gain money from it.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 22 Oct 2019 @ 3:37pm

      Re: Clearly you have a mania to advocate open prostitution.

      You must have mania to advocate who can do what with their lives.
      Who the hell do you think you are to order full functioning adults what to do with their bodies?
      You want to see a society with state dictated morality at work? Go live in North Korea or Saudi Arabia. Until then leave people alone, you malcontent, authoritarian, controlfreak.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Rocky, 22 Oct 2019 @ 3:43pm

      Re: Clearly you have a mania to advocate open prostitution.

      Just to show everyone how slimy a coward you are in your lies:

      https://reason.com/2019/08/26/secret-memos-show-the-government-has-been-lying-about-backpage/

      But I don't expect you to click that link, because you are afraid of the truth.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 22 Oct 2019 @ 5:24pm

      Re: Clearly you have a mania to shit up Techdirt

      Sup bro. Just admit you lied about leaving forever.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Stephen T. Stone (profile), 22 Oct 2019 @ 5:47pm

      We get it, you want Mike to hatefuck you into the ground — but I’m pretty sure he’s married.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 22 Oct 2019 @ 5:53pm

      Re:

      You are not promoting "free speech" or any societally desirable goal, but prostitution.

      Can we argue then, that copyright enforcement for porn incentivizes prostitution and sexual abuse?

      Seriously, think before you approach your angles. Or get someone in PR to do it for you.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        Stephen T. Stone (profile), 22 Oct 2019 @ 8:52pm

        Incidentally: Calling for the decriminalization of sex work is an example of free speech — and one that needs the protection of the First Amendment, considering the general unpopularity of that sentiment.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Ehud Gavron (profile), 22 Oct 2019 @ 3:58pm

    The BackPage ecosystem

    I ran an ISP* that had the core of BackPage's real servers in it. These four racks of servers were replicated in lots of places to prevent e.g. DDoS attacks, but the ones we hosted were the source where content was developed.

    The day the FBI and the Treasury came together with three SUVs to take all the servers -- with a valid search warrant, subpoena, and court orders -- was long before FOSTA was passed. It was even before Kamala "we need laws because I can't arrest BackPage for sex trafficking" and then "Oh I arrested these guys because I want to get elected despite what I testified under oath that I can't do it" got elected.

    The key to legislation is to follow the money. "Think of the children"" and "stop the sex trafficking" are just rally-cries of Hollywood. The MAFIAA want CDA Section 230 gutted and they don't care what gets sacrificed in the process.

    In this case it's sites (Craigslist, BackPage) that voluntarily cooperate[d] with LEOs to remove scum from freedom. Instead so-called "sex workers" (apparently now they're "workers" and before they were "trafficked victims"... not sure how that paradigm shifted) now are LESS safe, MORE attacked, and pimps are all the new rage.

    When you lose your voice you lose your rights... and the removal of Sec 230 from these people has taken their voice, right to advertise, right to express, right to educate, and right to be heard from them.

    You may be a right-wing religious nutbar who thinks sex only occurs between a married man and a woman when he tells her to... but for the other 99% of the world... it's a negotiated give and take. It's also legal in many countries and part of the United States.

    Ehud Gavron

    • That's an Internet Service Provider, not a telco. Sorry, KB. One day you'll get the difference.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      That One Guy (profile), 22 Oct 2019 @ 6:47pm

      Re: The BackPage ecosystem

      Instead so-called "sex workers" (apparently now they're "workers" and before they were "trafficked victims"... not sure how that paradigm shifted) now are LESS safe, MORE attacked, and pimps are all the new rage.

      Not a paradigm shift so much as talking about two different groups, one willing, the other not.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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