Lawsuit claims website aids child sex trafficking
SEATTLE (AP) — The Washington Supreme Court is set to hear arguments Tuesday in a case filed by three sex trafficking victims who say the website Backpage.com helps promote the exploitation of children.
The suit is one of two taking on the classified ad website. A federal case was filed in Boston last week.
Backpage.com argues that the lawsuits are an attempt at censorship. It says the Communications Decency Act gives it immunity from the activities of its members or users.
Lawyers for the three girls say they were sold as prostitutes in advertisements on Backpage.com. They say it and other sites offering "adult services" are not protected by the communications act because they are responsible for some of the information on the website.
Backpage.com asked a Supreme Court judge to dismiss the case. The judge declined, so Backpage.com appealed.
The lawsuit comes after Washington lawmakers passed a bill in 2012 that imposed a $10,000 fine and up to a year in prison if a website failed to make reasonable attempts to ascertain the age of someone placing an ad for commercial sex. The day it was to take effect, a federal judge issued a restraining order.
The law was struck down in December 2012.