2017 CLBR Zero: Backpage.com

On December 20, CLBR will have our annual year-end Heroes and Zeros episode in which, with guests Brenda Christensen, Denise Howell and Dan Tynan, we highlight those doing wonderful things on the internet and those deserving a cyber lump of coal.  This year, in order to give credit (and shame) where it is due,  I am naming my hero and zero “nominees” individually and one of zeros for the year is the website, Backpage.com.

As discussed more fully in Cyber Report, the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations issued a report entitled “Backpage.com’s Knowing Facilitation of Online Sex Trafficking.”  The report found that:

  • Backpage knowingly covered up evidence of criminal activity by systematically editing its so-called adult ads.
  • Backpage knows that it facilitates prostitution and even child sex trafficking.
  • Despite the reported sale of Backpage to an undisclosed foreign company in 2014, taking them outside of the U.S., the true owners of the company are the founders, James Larkin and Michael Lacey and Carl Ferrer, their CEO.

The report was the culmination of a lengthy battle with Backpage that included the Committee obtaining unanimous consent from the Senate to pursue contempt proceedings for failing to comply with the Committee’s subpoena and Backpage unsuccessfully fighting the subpoena all the way to the Supreme Court.

Backpage is currently facing criminal proceedings in California and is under federal investigation.

Committee Chairman Rob Portman has since introduced the Stop Enabling Sex Traffickers Act of 2017 to shut down companies like Backpage, but its amendments to the immunity afforded under Communications Decency Act Section 230 are very troubling as discussed recently with Professor Eric Goldman.  (See CLBR #279.)

Annual Heroes and Zeros Show

Listen on Wednesday, December 20th at 1PM ET / 10AM PT on WebmasterRadio.fm as I discuss the Heroes and Zeros for 2017 with our special guests – Brenda Christensen, Denise Howell and Dan Tynan.

the judges