Google has been accused of opposing legislation aimed at decreasing online sex trafficking.
According to EndSexualExploitation.org, the Silicon Valley giant lobbied members of Congress via an email earlier this week, pleading with officials to oppose said legislation over concerns that it “has the potential to seriously jeopardize the internet ecosystem.”
“As you may have seen yesterday, a number of Senators, led by Senators Portman and McCaskill, have introduced a bill, S. 1693, the Stop Enabling Sex Traffickers Act of 2017, aimed at fighting sex trafficking – basically by trying to go after a single bad actor, Backpage.com,” a copy of the alleged email, shared by EndSexualExploitation.org, reads.
“They have been working with Rep. Wagner, who has a slightly different companion bill, H.R. 1865, the Allow States and Victims to Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act of 2017.”
The email continues, “unfortunately, in doing so, the bills undercut one of the foundational statutes for the internet: Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act.”
The message goes on to suggest that the legislation deemed problematic by Google will punish parties not involved in notorious sex trafficking website Backpage.com’s illegal activities.
See Backpage’s CEO Carl Ferrer being questioned by U.S. officials below.
Google, as EndSexualExploitation.org reports, has a history of coming to Backpage.com’s defence.
A recent report from Consumer Watchdog accused Google of employing, as EndSexualExploitation.org puts it, “multi-pronged efforts to defend Backpage.com, a website notorious for facilitating prostitution and sex trafficking of women and children.”
“Research by Consumer Watchdog reveals that Google has provided millions of dollars to support Backpage’s legal defense,” EndSexualExploitation.org continues.
“Much of that legal defense hinges on Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act.”
EndSexualExploitation.org further accuses courts who have previously ruled in Backpage.com’s favor of using Section 230 in a way Congress never intended.
“In 1996,” the organization states, “Congress passed the Communications Decency Act in an effort to protect children from Internet pornography. However, the Supreme Court later invalidated most of the law except for Section 230, which gives immunity to ‘Interactive Computer Service’ providers who publish third-party posts.”
In other words, as per Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, services like web hosting providers are not to be held responsible for illegal material shared by a third party.
Proponents of Backpage.com, including Google, have used this legislation to argue that the classifieds website should not be held responsible for sexploitation advertisements posted on it.
This despite the fact that Backpage.com has a long history of profiting directly from the business of sex trafficking.
In Canada, for example, The Globe And Mail reports that an overwhelming majority of sex trafficking victims discovered by police are advertised through Backpage.com.
To make matters even worse, in the city of Toronto, 95% of underage sex trafficking victims discovered by police were discovered through Backpage.com.
EndSexualExploitation.org has called on concerned citizens to contact their local officials “via emails or phone calls or Facebook posts to encourage them to support the respective bills S. 1693 and H.R. 1865 instead of being intimidated by Google.”
Learn more – and sign the organization’s petition – here.
Hear the heartbreaking story of one young victim who was sold on Backpage.com below.