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FBI seizes sex market website

FBI seizes sex market website

07 April 2018 Saturday 17:14
FBI seizes sex market website

Groups and political leaders working to end forced prostitution and child exploitation celebrate the shutdown of Backpage, a massive ad marketplace that is primarily used to sell sex

U.S. law enforcement agencies have seized the sex marketplace website Backpage.com as part of an enforcement action by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, according to a posting on the Backpage website on Friday.

Groups and political leaders working to end forced prostitution and child exploitation celebrated the shutdown of Backpage, a massive ad marketplace that is primarily used to sell sex. But some internet and free speech advocates warned the action could lead to harsh federal limits on expression and the press.

The website posting said U.S. attorneys in Arizona and California, as well as the Justice Department's section on child exploitation and obscenity and the California and Texas attorneys general had helped shut down the website.

The Justice Department said that a court in Arizona ruled the case remains sealed, which puts any legal information under wraps. In the posting about the seizure, the department had originally said more information would be made public on Friday evening.

A Phoenix FBI official said that there was "law enforcement activity" at the Sedona, Arizona home of Michael Lacey, one of the founders of Backpage, but referred further inquiries to the Justice Department.

"Today, Backpage was shutdown. It's a huge step. Now no child will be sold for sex through this website," tweeted Senator Heidi Heitkamp.

Heitkamp helped draft legislation passed by the Senate last month that makes it easier for state prosecutors and sex-trafficking victims to sue social media networks, advertisers and others that fail to keep sex trafficking and exploitative materials off their platforms.

Reuters

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