Washington Drops Online Sex Trafficking Law

Nothing irks me more than the government trying to place blame on the escort industry for things it has no control over.
The government has been trying to blame the escort industry for sex trafficking for years now, & society buys into this load of crap (pardon my language.)

The escort industry is no more responsible for sex trafficking than Italian Restaurants are responsible for the Italian mafia.

But, the ignorant will still continue to believe the worst about the escort industry because they believe everything the government tells them & they don’t have an open mind or understand what goes on within the escort industry.

I’m going to summarize this article about how Washington drops the Online Sex Trafficking law which was mainly concerning Backpage, & then at the end, post a legal opinion of the article.

I’m not a fan of BackPage myself. Village Voice refused to help me when I called to speak to someone. They claim they are no longer part of Backpage. They told me to e-mail them.

When I e-mailed them, they either ignored me when I got upset because they have complete morons manning their e-mails who wouldn’t give me a clear answer, or they just robotically repeated the same thing over & over again.

So I’m posting this only because you need to know what is happening to our industry, NOT because I like BackPage.

(CN) – Washington State officials are dropping their defense of a law aimed at fighting online sex trafficking after a number of Internet providers and civil liberties groups challenged it as unconstitutional.

In response to a sting operation that found child prostitutes advertised on Backpage.com, the Washington Senate passed SB 6251, which was set to go into effect in June.

Backpage.com is a Village Voice website known for hosting ads for adult escort services, among others.

The state law would make it a felony to advertise commercial sexual abuse of a minor either “directly or indirectly.”

Backpage sued to block the law, which it said was unconstitutional. The Internet Archive later joined the challenge and filed a separate complaint.

“Although its ostensible motivation — to prevent the sex trafficking of children — is laudable, the law is not,” Backpage claimed in its federal lawsuit filed in Seattle.

“Because of its expansive language, the law applies not only to online classified ad services like Backpage.com, but also to any website that allows third parties to post content, including user comments, reviews, chats, and discussion forums, and to social networking sites, search engines, internet service providers, and more.”

The only defense the proposed law allows against prosecution is for a defendant (i.e., a website) to obtain official identification proving that a person depicted in an ad is 18 or older.

Here is the complete article.

Here is the legal opinion about the article on
Washington Drops Online Sex Trafficking Law

It’s a good step, but I think you read too much into it – this action doesn’t protect anything, and doesn’t make escort advertising legal.  It just gets a bad new law off the books (i.e. one that could impose strict liability on a publisher without any actual or constructive knowledge requirement).  Advertising for prostitution remains illegal under other existing laws (which are harder to enforce).

What I did find interesting is that the new law adopts a premise that you generally agree with in other contexts (publisher liability for companies that merely make third party content available on the web).  There are some obvious context differences, but the basic underlying issue –  Are Google & Backpage responsible for the content uploaded by their customers or not? – is the same.

It only applies to Washington because it was a state criminal statute.  An action by a state court can only invalidate that state statute, and isn’t binding anywhere else.  Remember in the US, the criminal laws vary wildly from state to state, and with the exception of interstate trafficking, the Federal government really stays out of this kind of thing.

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