If Motels Can Be Held Liable for Facilitating Sex Trafficking, Why Can’t Websites?

As reported by the Star Tribune, a motel in California has settled a case brought by Los Angeles City for its alleged role as a hub for sex trafficking activity.

Motel 6 has agreed to pay $250,000 to settle a lawsuit brought by Los Angeles that alleged one of the chain’s locations was a base for human traffickers, drug dealers and gang members, prosecutors said.

In one case, staff members “didn’t hesitate” to rent a room to an undercover police officer who had been posing as a pimp and told the workers that he intended for another undercover officer to work as a prostitute there, the lawsuit alleged.

In another incident, three undercover police officers were approached at the motel’s pool by a suspected gang member who propositioned them to work as prostitutes, offered to act as their pimp and said he would post ads on Backpage.com in exchange for half of the proceeds, Feuer said.

It’s a tremendous victory that this motel was held accountable for facilitating sex trafficking!

How does this relate to Backpage.com?

Like this motel, Backpage is facilitating sex trafficking and prostitution.

U.S. law states that severe trafficking in persons includes acts like “recruitment, harboring, transportation, provision, or obtaining” of trafficked persons. Motels, hotels, and websites alike often assist in these activities.

The California Attorney General’s office reported that during the period of January 2013 to March 2015, 99% of Backpage’s worldwide income was directly attributable to its ads selling people for sex.

Unlike this motel, Backpage is not being held accountable under the current law.

Why? Because of an outdated law that is shielding them from justice. That law is the Communications Decency Act (CDA), and it gives broad immunity to websites that host third-party posts, even if that website is engaging in the same spirit of criminal or negligent conduct that Motel 6 was held liable for.

Learn more about the Communications Decency Act and take action to correct the law so that victims of sex trafficking can receive justice.

The Numbers


NCOSE leads the Coalition to End Sexual Exploitation with over 300 member organizations.


The National Center on Sexual Exploitation has had over 100 policy victories since 2010. Each victory promotes human dignity above exploitation.


NCOSE’s activism campaigns and victories have made headlines around the globe. Averaging 93 mentions per week by media outlets and shows such as Today, CNN, The New York Times, BBC News, USA Today, Fox News and more.



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