The largest commercial sex services advertising platform which, among other things was accused of advertising sex trafficking of minors, was forced to shut down its Adult Ads pages under pressure from credit card companies.
The website, that was described by a US 2016 Senate report as the 'largest commercial sex services advertising platform in the United States' with officials publicly acknowledging that criminals use the website for sex trafficking, including trafficking of minors, was finally forced to suspend its adult ad pages, citing government pressure about the content being shared there.
Backpage.com, which in 2013, reportedly netted more than 80 percent of all revenue from online commercial sex advertising in the United States, announced it would shut down adult ads in the US, citing “Government Pressure” but it insisted it would keep its sex ad pages live for users outside the US.
The February 2016 US Senate report stated that sex traffickers have made extensive use of websites that serve as marketplaces for ordinary commercial sex and escort services. These sites may facilitate the sex trade by providing an easily accessible forum that matches buyers of sex with anonymous traffickers. The Senate report singled out Backpage.com after the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children has reported that of the suspected child trafficking reports it receives from the public, 71 percent involved Backpage.com.
In October, the CEO of Backpage.com, Carl Ferrer, was arrested in Houston and charged with pimping a minor, pimping and conspiracy to commit pimping but Internet Law Expert can today report that the charges against Carl Ferrer were subsequently dropped. In the US, website operators enjoy a constitutional protection in relation to publications by third parties on the websites they operate.
In the book The Net is Closing; birth of the e-police, social media solicitor and internet safety campaigner Yair Cohen accused financial institutions of facilitating and benefiting from online criminal activities, often at the expense of the vulnerable and particularly young children.
|The Net is Closing; birth of the police|
According a report in the HuffingtonPost the major credit card companies, including American Express, Visa and MasterCard, will no longer let their cards be used to purchase adult ads on Backpage.com.
The question now remains whether PayPal will follow suit by restricting access to its services on Backpage.com or whether it will decide to exploit this opportunity to profiteer.