back to article Backpage.com kills adult section, claims government censorship

Online ads site Backpage.com has shut down all its adult categories claiming US government censorship. The decision was made the same day as a highly critical Congressional report [PDF] into the company and just hours before a Congressional hearing that lambasted it for profiting from child sex trafficking. According to the …

  1. Sampler

    Wouldn't it be better to keep them?

    I mean, if "80%-100%" of children that the charity are dealing with were advertised on there, it seems to be a good place for cops to monitor and intervene?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Wouldn't it be better to keep them?

      That would mean they care about the children. If they did, things as hentai wont be illegal in the uk, etc etc.

  2. Mark 85 Silver badge

    US Constitutional Law is a tough problem.....

    While many countries have their ways around such things due to no Constitution or no Free Speech amendments, etc. we do. It's been twisted, chewed on, challenged and it still stands. It's also been used to stretch the limits of credibility in some cases.

    INAL, but while prostitution (Nevada excepted), child porn/prostitution are illegal, there are those who will argue that advertising is a Free Speech issue and this is a Constitutional problem. It is a corruption of the spirit of the Constitution. I personally think child porn/prostitution producers, distributors, and customers should be shot on sight, there are laws that deal with that. If the act is illegal than so should be advertising it.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: US Constitutional Law is a tough problem.....

      "... the spirit of the Constitution"

    2. Pen-y-gors Silver badge

      Re: US Constitutional Law is a tough problem.....

      Shooting on sight sounds reasonable - but see other Reg story about Fark being blocked from Google for publishing picture of 19yo girl which a respected psychologist said was clearly of a child. Who defines a child? In the UK it means 'dressed as a schoolgirl even if you're 73'. Thankfully guns are hard to get in the UK.

      1. Adam 52 Silver badge

        Re: US Constitutional Law is a tough problem.....

        Got a reference?

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: US Constitutional Law is a tough problem.....

          "Got a reference?"

          Pole dancing club in Bristol, UK - told by judge to stop using posters to advertise St Trinians themed nights.

          http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-bristol-32283118

    3. Version 1.0 Silver badge

      Re: US Constitutional Law is a tough problem.....

      Maybe, but screwing congressional pages is still OK.

  3. MrDamage

    Hypocrisy

    The Seniletors and Congresscritters, or any politician for that matter, have no qualms about declaring everything they do is legal within the law, and even make/change laws to ensure it remains legal.

    But once someone else starts doing it, they cry foul.

    The law is supposed to be a framework within which society can survive and flourish. But instead of arguing over what is contained within the framework, politicians and lawyers prefer to argue over what colour the framework is.

    1. ecofeco Silver badge

      Re: Hypocrisy

      More money that way, ya see?

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I for one welcome our robot overlords

    I look forward to the day when middle-aged men who can't get any action can be serviced by an in-home sexbot. Amazon are probably half-way there: they've got the drones and the "customers who bought the sexbot 3000 also bought some lube and a box of kleenex" bundling.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: I for one welcome our robot overlords

      "I look forward to the day when middle-aged men who can't get any action can be serviced by an in-home sexbot."

      In the UK they would have to comply with the vague definition of "not looking under 18".

      1. Trigonoceps occipitalis

        Re: I for one welcome our robot overlords

        If invented tomorrow I would have to wait until 2033 for the robot to come of age.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Sigh:

    Sop instead of going after the proven child sex slave purveyors by doing real investigation, the typical knee jerk reaction is "ban everything".

    Tossers.

    1. ecofeco Silver badge

      Re: Sigh:

      Are you seriously saying banning adverts for child prostitution is not doing anything?

      You really should take a cab home.

  6. Pen-y-gors Silver badge

    Who on earth?

    Whatever the arguments over 'censorship', surely the fundamental question is who on earth would knowingly and publicly make money by running adverts for child prostitutes? How do these people look in a mirror in the morning? Do they tell their mothers what they do for a living?

    1. Adam 52 Silver badge

      Re: Who on earth?

      Read the article properly. They're knowingly running huge numbers of adverts for prostitutes. Amongst that number are some, where some may be 1, children. There is no evidence that they're knowingly running adverts for child prostitutes.

      You could apply the same logic to any utility company.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Who on earth?

        "There is no evidence that they're knowingly running adverts for child prostitutes."

        There is a mountain of evidence. I suggest you read this:

        http://www.theregister.co.uk/2015/05/21/backpage_ruling_dismisses_child_prostitution_allegations/

        "It allowed misspellings of filtered terms. When an advertiser entered their age as being under 18, Backpage would reject the advert – but allowed the immediate re-submission of the ad with the age changed."

        Backpage was not neutral, it went out of its way to facilitate underage sex. This is a crime.

    2. Charles 9 Silver badge

      Re: Who on earth?

      "How do these people look in a mirror in the morning? Do they tell their mothers what they do for a living?"

      One, you're not familiar with sociopaths (they could look in the mirror AND SMIRK at what they're doing--the luzahs...). Two, who's to say their mothers weren't doing this to their own kids?

      PS. Be careful about shooting on sight. Sociopaths are also the kind to take hostages and keep dead man's plans.

  7. tiggity Silver badge

    Letter of the law

    It's a shame governments dont take the "it might be within the letter of the law but it's morally reprehensible" approach to the morally repugnant massive tax avoidance big companies legally do within "the letter of the law". If they clawed back some of that cash then there would be funds to investigate other crimes.

    It always confuses me when they say "site x" is main conduit for this heinous crime, why not make use of that info and find the people offering kids etc. It's not as if US law enforcement is lacking in NIT (hacking / malware tools) - though the playpen fiasco means their secrecy mania has a habit of prosecutions getting dropped.

    If backpage, the alleged main conduit for punting kids goes, then presumably the sellers will be driven further underground and far harder to catch? But it's not really about catching the evil guys is it? It's "think of the children" as an excuse for a moral crusade to go after anything with a bit of personal services advertised.

    But lets have a bit of theatre instead of actually catching scum, it's far easier.

    1. Charles 9 Silver badge

      Re: Letter of the law

      The problem is that big companies keep a stick. If countries pressure them they can threaten to leave, denying them ALL tax revenues. Which would you rather have: 10% of something or 100% if nothing?

      1. Mike VandeVelde
        Boffin

        Re: Letter of the law

        how about 100% of everything when new proper companies fill the market vacuum?

        1. Charles 9 Silver badge

          Re: Letter of the law

          No because they tend to act in a cartel. Plus the companies you're talking about tend to be like utilities: requiring huge upfront infrastructure investments, so they heavily favor incumbents. Anyone else who tries to come in will either demand the same or won't touch it. There CAN be times when NO ONE will come in because the barrier of entry is too high.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "McCaskill noted as much when she said she hoped the shutdown was not "just a cheap publicity stunt.""

    Is she referring to her committee?

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Sounds like the USA is the same as the UK.

    The principle is that any law is an understandable definition of what is illegal.

    In the last few decades it has become a fuzzy line which the law enforcers use to proscribe legal activities through fear of unwarranted prosecution or harassment.

  10. Version 1.0 Silver badge

    Welcome to America

    Sex is generally frowned upon, but it's OK to carry guns openly just about everywhere.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Welcome to America

      Because they want to DECREASE the population. Sex tends to INCREASE it.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Welcome to America

        "Because they want to DECREASE the population."

        It seems that the states which are most lax with gun control - are the same ones who try to prevent people having any proper sex education or access to fertility control.

  11. Androgynous Cow Herd

    There are no "child prostitutes" on Backpage or anywhere else

    If underage, they are victims of child rape, plain and simple. Rape victims, not criminals. If any advertiser was out there advertising an easy way for rapists to find victims, shutting it down is clearly the thing to do.

    California recently passed a bill that acknowledges this basic fact...by decriminalizing the underage rape victims, it makes getting them help and getting them to cooperate with law enforcement much easier. Now, a victim can drop a dime against any John (Rapist) without fear of legal retribution, ditto for a pimp. Of course, a Republican State Senator named Travis Allen believes that rape victims should be prosecuted for their rape instead.

    http://www.washingtonexaminer.com/california-democrats-legalize-child-prostitution/article/2610540?fb_comment_id=1067523906691371_1068218929955202&comment_id=1067687900008305&reply_comment_id=1068218929955202

    The best thing to do would be to legalize prostitution (over the age of consent). It would still carry social stigma but would also make it easier to separate the rape victims from the professional mattress dancers. Oh, big, big penalties for pimping and pandering should be part of a legalization effort, and a license compleat with regular health screening obviously.

    So far as Backpage, if they seriously failed to follow up on reports of facilitating child rape, serves 'em right.

    1. Crazy Operations Guy Silver badge

      Re: There are no "child prostitutes" on Backpage or anywhere else

      So mean like what Canada did? Prostitution is legal, but soliciting a prostitute is not. That way a victim of trafficking isn't also a criminal... It one of the biggest reasons why sex crime victims don't come forward, if they do, they end up in a jail alongside their pimp.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: There are no "child prostitutes" on Backpage or anywhere else

        Don't the pimps just find other ways to keep their "charges" hostage, such as dirty laundry or making them push drugs on the side?

  12. ecofeco Silver badge

    Many of you really missed this one

    Child prostitution or not, it is still illegal as hell to advertise prostitution anywhere in the US.

    That it is allowed at all shows just how corrupt the whole situation really is.

    I am all for consenting adults doing whatever they want in private as long as nobody gets hurt, but the idiot that owns backpage is breaking the law. Fuck him.

    1. Charles 9 Silver badge

      Re: Many of you really missed this one

      "Child prostitution or not, it is still illegal as hell to advertise prostitution anywhere in the US."

      Under which law, and why doesn't Freedom of the Press apply for business agreements between consenting adults?

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    BUSTED

    Well folks, seen the news lately? It WAS just a cheap publicity stunt. Not only did they simply move the adult section elsewhere on the site, they also got caught up in an unrelated raid on a company called Avion in the Philipines, which yielded evidence that the Backpage bosses have been willfully doing everything they were accused of, including running an international child sex slavery ring.

    This is basically P----Gate.

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