Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act (FOSTA)
Allows States and Victims To Sue Backpage.com
Alright Gentlemen… we’ve got a problem.
On Tuesday, Feb. 27th the House of Representatives passed the first phase of a bill that states websites are liable for third party commercial sex advertisements involving a victim or victims of sex trafficking.
This means Backpage.com is in more hot water, but so is everyone else.
The FOSTA Cost
The Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act (FOSTA) was passed by a huge majority… 388 in favor and 25 opposed.
This means that if sex traffickers advertise their victims on a website, that website could be found liable in criminal and/or civil court, even if they in no way colluded with the actual trafficker.
This is a horrible can of worms…. for some, this may seem like a victory, but it’s short sighted and misses the basic premise by which law enforcement catches the bad guys in these cases.
Sex trafficking operates in relation to law enforcement like a game of cat and mouse.
We’ve all seen it. When laws change or law enforcement changes tactics, sex traffickers and their customers adapt.
Craigslist.org and Backpage.com are perfect examples.
When the authorities were going after Craigslist and labeled them the “Walmart of child sex trafficking,” the site owners shuttered the adult section. What happened next is what always happens in this kind of scenario. People started posting their ads in the regular legit massage section and the dating section.
Then, seven years later in 2017, Backpage.com was forced to shutter their adult section or face contempt of court. Once again, the advertisements moved to the legit massage section and the dating section.
Many providers also went to sites like Humaniplex.com and CityVibe.com.
A Friend To Law Enforcement
Right now, most law enforcement and anti-human trafficking agencies are focused on virtually patrolling Backpage.com.
THIS is the reason why 73% of the 10,000 child-trafficking reports received by the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) involve Backpage.
Meanwhile, plenty of other websites are largely being ignored.
FOSTA still has to be voted on by the Senate and eventually signed by the prez. If FOSTA is passed into law, more and more websites will be monitored by police.
For example, unbeknown to most, there are secret commercial sex oriented Facebook groups. I didn’t know that. Did you? The guys at Facebook really are dopey about their own platform.
Apparently there is a secret Facebook group called “Magic City Hotties.”
You can only become a member if a current member sends you an invite and then ultimately get approved. There are also password-protected websites, such as AlwaysOnTheHunt.com.
Even if police are aware of these websites and want to monitor the activity, it’s very difficult. As well, some internationally based sites have made it clear they won’t cooperate with American law enforcement.
Who’s Winning Now?
For sites like the Brazil-based website USASexGuide.info that means more business. They’ve even created a new website in anticipation USAAdultClassifieds.info.
No matter what anyone says or thinks the simple fact is that sites like Craigslist.org and Backpage.com are used as vital and very reliable tools for law enforcement to catch bad guys. Most of the time, these sites are very cooperative with investigations.
In fact, you might be surprised to know that Craigslist and Backpage are in good company when talking about sex trafficking.
Traffickers love using sites like Facebook, Snapchat, WeChat, Instagram and Twitter… and there’s many more. Of course, these websites don’t knowingly allow sex traffickers to use their platforms, but there it is.
If FOSTA is passed by the Senate and signed into law by the president, it will do NOTHING to prevent sex trafficking, prosecute offenders, or protect victims. That’s the truth.
However, it will make these sex crimes more clandestine making current law enforcement efforts much more difficult.
Instead of vilifying Backpage why not work in tandem with them? Traffickers will only find other outlets to find customers. Those are the people the cops need to go after. Not classified ad site owners.
Besides, we already have laws which prosecute businesses that are complicit in sex trafficking operations.
So, to truly combat sex trafficking, we must bring this illicit activity out of the shadows. It’s the only way to be able to tell the good guys from the bad guys.
Thanks for reading. Have a sensual day, Dyann