April 7, 2018

Press Conference On Government Seizure and Shutdown of Backpage.com

Press conference and rally regarding the shutdown of Backpage at the Coalition to End Sexual Exploitation Summit.

Survivors, Advocates Celebrate Watershed Moment as Backpage.com is
Seized by the Department of Justice

Online Press Conference at the Coalition to End Sexual Exploitation (CESE) Summit


After years of advocacy by survivors of commercial sexual exploitation and other experts, the Department of Justice seized and shutdown Backpage.com, the largest sex trafficking website in the world.


Last night at the Coalition to End Sexual Exploitation (CESE) Summit, nearly 600 abolitionist leaders from 18 countries rallied to celebrate this watershed moment and to call for the swift signing of FOSTA-SESTA (H.R. 1865) by President Trump.


FOSTA-SESTA marshals the resources of state and local law enforcement against the massive phenomenon of online sex trafficking, a problem so pervasive that federal government resources alone are inadequate to address it. While Backpage.com is the largest and most well-known platform for facilitating prostitution and sex trafficking, dozens of similar websites operate in communities across the country. The proliferation of websites that facilitate prostitution and trafficking was enabled by Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act (CDA), a section of law which courts ruled protected such websites even if they knowingly participated in the crime of sex trafficking. This situation has fostered an online environment where it is as easy to purchase human beings for sex as it is to order a pizza. Thanks to FOSTA-SESTA, buyers will no longer be able to easily access such websites, and the rates of exploitation of vulnerable people will decline.


Additionally, FOSTA-SESTA restores sex trafficking victims’ access to justice. Survivors had been repeatedly told by the courts that their right to seek civil damages from those who facilitated their exploitation, was subordinate to the immunity provided to companies by the CDA.


Speakers at the press conference included:

  • Lisa L. Thompson, Vice President of Policy and Education at the National Center on Sexual Exploitation
  • Angela, mother of a sex trafficking survivor Jane Doe #3 as featured in the documentary I Am Jane Doe
  • Tom Jones, founder of the H.O.P.E. Project and survivor leader
  • Marian Hatcher, Senior Project Manager and Human Trafficking Coordinator at the Cook County Sherriff’s Office and survivor leader


Further Reading