Added: Joli Sparacino - Date: 23.12.2021 19:12 - Views: 35338 - Clicks: 842
A federal grand jury in Arizona has indicted seven people behind the classified- website Back. The defendants include founders Michael Lacey, 69, and James Larkin, 68, as well as other shareholders and employees. The indictment accuses the executives of presenting Back as a site to advertise escort services while knowing that "the overwhelming majority of the website's involve prostitution.
Back servers had been seized and shut down Friday in a raid by the Department of Justice, FBI, other federal agencies and attorneys general from California and Texas. The charges against Lacey, Larkin and others were unsealed on Monday. The indictment is the first case of federal criminal charges against the people behind Back after years of scrutiny and controversy.
Several young women and their families have over the years lost lawsuits against the classifieds website, accusing it of facilitating child sex trafficking. As The Washington Post reports , "Back has argued that it assists law enforcement in tracking down victims and perpetrators of crimes, which some police officials have corroborated.
Some in the sex worker industry say that removing Back from the internet takes away a safe mechanism for screening clients, and that the will simply move to sites outside the country, or to social media. Back has been in legal fights for years, but mostly in civil cases filed by young women and their families. In case after case against Back, the site's lawyers successfully argued the website was not responsible for its , citing a law that shields social media and other Internet platforms from liability for what users say or post online.
The site had argued it simply hosted the . The law, however, allows for federal criminal investigations. Plus, a major Senate investigation and a cache of discovered documents eventually suggested that Back was actively involved in the creating and editing of the sex , making the site a publisher that could be liable for its content. The alleged involvement included stripping the of code words such as "Lolita" or "new to town," which could indicate an underage girl. CEO Carl Ferrer and shareholders Lacey and Larkin had ly been charged with conspiracy to commit pimping, but a California judge rejected the charges.
Lacey and Larkin are former executives of the New Times Media chain, which they sold off a few years ago. Ferrer was subpoenaed to testify before the Senate in , but he did not show up. He, Lacey and Larkin did appear before the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations in , but they declined to answer questions, citing the First and Fifth Amendments.
The Supreme Court last year declined to hear an appeal against Back and its use of the Internet shield law, known as Section of the Communications Decency Act. In March, prompted by the Back saga, Congress changed Section to allow more state and civil lawsuits against websites related to online sex trafficking, for "knowingly assisting, supporting or facilitating" crimes.
The legislation faced opposition from free-expression groups and some Internet companies that consider Section the core pillar of the modern Internet and say the crimes will simply travel deeper into the dark Web. Sex workers also have argued that the bill would make people working in the industry less safe. After the bill 's passage, Craigslist shut down its personals section in the U. Franklin County, Mass. Hampden County, Mass. Hampshire County, Mass. Worcester County, Mass. Share Tweet . A screenshot of Back. NPR's Vanessa Romo contributed to this report.
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