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The foundation and traditions of free classified advertising and free circulation were part of the fundamentals of the alternative newsweeklies dating back to 1971.The Chicago Reader and the Phoenix New Times were pioneers in these operating philosophies.
In many cases, the critics of Backpage say that these efforts are less than is necessary or possible.
In addition, they argue that by providing prompt and detailed information about postings to law enforcement when asked to do so (including phone numbers, credit card numbers and IP addresses), Backpage aids law enforcement in protecting minors from such activity.
They also contend that the prompt and complete production of this information results in more convictions for illegal activities and that shutting down the adult section of Backpage will simply drive the traffickers to other places on the internet that will be less forthcoming about crucial information for law enforcement.
They enlisted support from musicians, politicians, journalists, media companies and retailers.
The campaign created a greater public dialogue, both pro and con, regarding Backpage. On October 6, 2016, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton and California Attorney General Kamala Harris announced that Texas authorities had raided the Dallas headquarters of and arrested CEO Carl Ferrer at the George Bush Intercontinental Airport in Houston on felony charges of pimping a minor, pimping, and conspiracy to commit pimping.
Some companies including H&M, IKEA, and Barnes & Noble canceled ads for publications owned by Village Voice Media. The California arrest warrant alleged that 99% of Backpage’s revenue was directly attributable to prostitution-related ads, and many of the ads involved victims of sex trafficking, including children under the age of 18.
Over 230,000 people including 600 religious leaders, 51 attorneys general, 19 U. senators, over 50 non-governmental associations, musician Alicia Keys, and members of R. M., The Roots, and Alabama Shakes petitioned the website to remove sexual content. The State of Texas was also considering a money laundering charge pending its investigation.Most of the criticism has centered on the charge that Backpage is used to market minors (i.e.underage sex trafficking), and that they contribute to a surge of prostitution in areas that they operate.Liz Mc Dougall, an attorney serving as general counsel for Backpage.com, said that Backpage is an "ally in the fight against human trafficking." She said that the adult section of Backpage is closely monitored, and that shutting it down "would simply drive the trafficking underground." She said that websites like Backpage, that are able to monitor trafficking activity and report it to law enforcement, are key in the fight against human trafficking. have pointed out that the freedoms and potentially the entire fabric of the internet would be threatened if this type of free speech is prohibited on Backpage.Mc Dougall said that shutting down the service on a cooperative United States–based website would only drive trafficking to underground and international websites that are more difficult to monitor, and are often outside the jurisdiction of U. They cite both First Amendment rights of free speech guaranteed in the Constitution as well as Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act.Prostitution is illegal throughout the United States, except for some counties in Nevada.