FBI seizing Backpage.com, affiliated websites in enforcement action


Backpage.com has always been under fire because of allegations of sex trafficking and prostitution. Founder Michael Lacey was charged with a 93-count indictment after his home was raided by authorities. It's a legal gray area as the agreement is made for companionship rather than sex, but the backpage.com shutdown was due to sex trafficking - which is a pretty cut and dry issue when it comes to discussing legality. It also known for listings adult escorts and other sexual services, and authorities say advertising related to those services has been extremely lucrative.

Backpage has always been a controversial classified advertising website, previously accused of facilitating child sex trafficking, among other things. They singled out Backpage, citing dozens of instances in which minors had been trafficked via the site.

Lawmakers and enforcement officials have been working to crack down on the site, the second largest classified ad service in the country after Craigslist that is used primarily to sell sex. The DOJ alleges that the site has earned $500 million in revenue from prostitution since it was first created.

According to the AP, a Senate report a year ago said 73 percent of all child trafficking reports that the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children received involved the site.

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Federal legislation was passed last month, called the Allow States and Victims to Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act (FOSTA), targeting operations like those at Backpage.

The FBI referred further questions to the U.S. Department of Justice, which later confirmed the Backpage website had been seized.

Talking about the matter is Bradley Myles, CEO of the group behind the National Human Trafficking Hotline, who stated to Reuters that Backpage's seizure will have a significant impact on the sex trafficking marketplace.

A Washington Post investigation previous year found that Backpage was using a contractor in the Philippines to contact prostitutes on other websites, seeking to lure their ads to Backpage and creating the ads for those prostitutes in advance. "Today's action sends a strong message to Backpage and any other company facilitating online sex trafficking that they will be held accountable for these horrific crimes".