Remember the Village Voice article “Real men get their facts straight?”
Remember Ashton Kutcher losing it on Twitter after the above article came out? One of his many tweets was “hey @villagevoice, hows the lawsuit from the 15 year old victim who alleges you helped enslave them going?” Well now we know how it ended. The lawsuit was dismissed.
Judge dismisses case against internet service provider
A federal court judge in Missouri dismissed the claims against Backpage.com and Village Voice Media Holdings on August 15. In the 31-page decision, United States Magistrate Judge Tomas C. Mummert, held that the defendant companies were immune from the claims, because they were passive internet service providers, entitled to immunity under the Communications Decency Act.
The claims alleged that in 2009 and 2010, Backpage.com, a website company, aided in the sexual trafficking of a 14-year-old, because it posted advertisements which included explicit nude photographs of the minor. The advertisements were created and submitted to Backpage.com by Latasha Jewell McFarland who plead guilty to one count of sexual trafficking of children in September 2010.
The court held that the defendants merely operated the website, but did not have active control over the images in the advertisements submitted by McFarland. Under the Communications Decency Act and the case law interpreting the immunity sections of the statute, service providers are not liable for harmful content provided by third parties. Because McFarland created the content, the defendants are immune from the harm they caused.
Furthermore, the court held, immunity applies to the defendants, even if the Backpage.com website had search engines that allowed keyword searched of postings in its “adult categories.” Furthermore, case law has established precedent that even where interactive service providers have an “active, even aggressive role in making available content provided by others,” immunity applies to website operators.
Ultimately, this court followed prior decisions, holding that “Congress has decided that the parties to be punished and deterred are not the internet service providers but rather are those who created and posted the illegal material.”
In light of this precedent, Judge Mummert wrote the plaintiff “may still pursue a civil remedy against McFarland.”
Elsewhere in a similar story:
Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act of 1996 recognized that the very nature of the Internet meant that vast traffic depended on the ability of citizens to post directly onto websites like Backpage.com, Facebook, MySpace or eBay, or to have search engines like Google and Yahoo find postings without pre-screening or censorship. The responsibility, under the law, rests with the person supplying the post.
Exactly. Guns don’t kill people. People kill people. Classified ads don’t traffic children. Asshole motherfuckers traffic children. We use ballistic forensics to match a gun as a murder weapon to the owner of the gun who used it to murder someone. We do not put the gun in jail, we put the person who used the gun in jail. We need to find the people who use backpage to traffic minors and put them away.
At this time my Google-Fu is broken, I cannot find the initial report of the arrest. However, I can imagine how it went down as a typical backpage sting. The pimp posted the ad, the cops used the ad to set up a meeting, and BAM child victim is rescued and one less pimp on the street. Just as ballistics are used to find murderers, backpage can be used to find pimps.