WASHINGTON, Jan. 10, 2017 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- As the direct result of unconstitutional government censorship, Backpage.com has removed its Adult content section from the highly popular classified website, effective immediately. For years, the legal system protecting freedom of speech prevailed, but new government tactics, including pressuring credit card companies to cease doing business with Backpage, have left the company with no other choice but to remove the content in the United States.
As federal appeals court Judge Richard Posner has described, the goal is either to "suffocate" Backpage out of existence or use the awesome powers of the government to force Backpage to follow in the footsteps of Craigslist and abandon its Adult advertising section. Judge Posner described such tactics as "a formula for permitting unauthorized, unregulated, foolproof, lawless government coercion."
"It's a sad day for America's children victimized by prostitution," said Dr. Lois Lee, Founder and President, Children of the Night, a leading national hotline and shelter program for victims of sex trafficking based in Los Angeles. "Backpage.com was a critical investigative tool depended on by America's vice detectives and agents in the field to locate and recover missing children and to arrest and successfully prosecute the pimps who prostitute children." She added, "The ability to search for and track potentially exploited children on a website and have the website bend over backwards to help and cooperate with police the way Backpage did was totally unique. It not only made law enforcement's job easier, it made them much more effective at rescuing kids and convicting pimps."
Backpage.com was created thirteen years ago by Jim Larkin and Michael Lacey, through their newspaper company, New Times Media, to compete with Craigslist, the nation's largest online classified ad platform. Larkin and Lacey were pioneers in independent journalism, establishing Village Voice Media in 1970 to provide alternative news coverage of the Vietnam war and later served as editor and publisher of twenty weekly newspapers.
As The Center for Democracy and Technology and the Electronic Frontier Foundation have observed, the Senate subcommittee has engaged in an "invasive, burdensome inquiry into Backpage.com's editorial practices [that] creates an intense chilling effect, not only for Backpage but for any website operator seeking to define their own editorial viewpoint and moderation procedures for the third-party content they host."
This will not end the fight for online freedom of speech. Backpage.com will continue to pursue its efforts in court to vindicate its First Amendment rights and those of other online platforms for third party expression.
To learn more, visit http://www.backpage.com/classifieds/censored
Full statements available:
Dr. Lois Lee, Children of the Night http://www.backpage.com/statements/Children-of-the-Night-Statement.pdf
Jim Larkin and Michael Lacey http://www.backpage.com/statements/Lacey-Larkin-Statement.pdf
Letter to PSI January 9, 2017 http://www.backpage.com/statements/Backpage-Letter-to-Committee-20170117.pdf
First Amendment Backgrounder http://www.backpage.com/statements/Backpage-First-Amendment-Fact-Sheet.pdf
Support from Law Enforcement Community http://www.backpage.com/statements/Support-from-the-Law-Enforcement-Community.pdf
Dale Leibach and Associates
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