Backpage Wins TRO Over Wash. Age-Verification Law

SEATTLE — A federal judge has sided with Backpage.com over a Washington state child sex-trafficking law that would require online publishers to verify the age of those shown in sex ads.

Backpage.com's parent company, Village Voice Media, had claimed the law, which was due to take effect today, "would bring the practice of hosting third-party content to a grinding halt."

U.S. District Judge Ricardo Martinez in Seattle this week granted a temporary restraining order to put a halt to the statute, ruling that he'd hear arguments over it at a preliminary injunction hearing June 15.

SB 6251 would force, by threat of five years imprisonment and a $10,000 fine per violation, websites to become the government’s censors of user content, Backpage attorneys said in the suit filed Monday.

"The law expressly states that it is not a defense that the defendant did not  know that the image was of a minor," Backpage counsel said. "Instead, to avoid prosecution, the defendant must  obtain governmental or educational identification for the person depicted in the post.

"This means that every service provider — no matter where headquartered or operated — must review each and every piece of third-party content posted on or through its service to determine whether it is an 'implicit' ad for a commercial sex act in Washington, and whether it includes a depiction of a person, and, if so, must obtain and maintain a record of the person’s ID."

In the suit, Backpage said that SB 6251 contravenes Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, which prohibits Internet service providers from being treated as the publisher or speaker of any information provided by a third party.

Backpage also said that the state was trampling on the Constitutional rights because the statute imposes strict criminal liability on speech and that the Commerce Clause prohibits states from passing and enforcing legislation that regulate activity beyond the state’s borders.

Backpage, its counsel say, has resisted demands to eliminate its adult category, maintaining that selective online censorship is not a solution to trafficking and child exploitation and that technology and responsible leadership in businesses can help address these problems.

Backpage counsel noted that other states are poised to follow Washington’s lead. A similar law will soon take effect in Tennessee, and the legislatures in New York and New Jersey are considering analogous bills.

View Backpage's complaint

Copyright © 2024 Adnet Media. All Rights Reserved. XBIZ is a trademark of Adnet Media.
Reproduction in whole or in part in any form or medium without express written permission is prohibited.

More News

Kansas Senator Dismisses Free Speech Concerns About Her Age Verification Bill

The Kansas Senate Judiciary Committee last week voted unanimously to endorse the state’s copycat version of the age verification legislation being sponsored around the country by anti-porn religious conservative activists, despite Democratic Senators expressing concerns about implications for free speech.

Mile High Media Debuts Streaming Service 'AdultMobile'

Mile High Media has launched its new streaming service, AdultMobile.com, featuring the studio's entire library of content.

2024 XBIZ Creator Awards Categories Announced, Pre-Noms Now Open

XBIZ is pleased to announce the award categories and opening of the pre-nomination period for the 2024 XBIZ Creator Awards.

South Dakota Republicans Admit Age Verification is Part of National Campaign Against Online 'Filth'

The South Dakota House Judiciary Committee last week voted unanimously to endorse the state’s copycat version of the age verification legislation being sponsored around the country by anti-porn religious conservative activists, which the bill’s backers described as part of a national campaign to fight online “filth.”

BranditScan, Pineapple Support Partner for Mental Health Awareness Week

BranditScan is teaming up with Pineapple Support for Mental Health Awareness Week, today through Sunday.

Fansly Signs On as Presenting Sponsor of 2024 XBIZ Creator Awards

Premium creator platform Fansly has signed on as the exclusive Presenting Sponsor of the 2024 XBIZ Creator Awards, the adult creator community’s biggest night.

Actor Rick Schroder Releases Bizarre Trailer for Anti-Porn Propaganda Series 'Erotic Erosion'

Former child actor and current anti-porn activist Rick Schroder is moving forward with “Erotic Erosion,” a new propaganda series targeting the adult industry.

Florida Republicans Combine Age Verification, Social Media Ban Bills

Republican state legislators in Florida have incorporated a copycat age verification bill, introduced by a pastor and based on other laws championed by religious conservatives across the country, into a larger bill that aims to prevent anyone under 16 from using certain social media platforms.

UK Media Regulator Encourages Companies, Creators to Provide Feedback on New Rules for Adult Content

U.K media regulator Ofcom is encouraging all members of the adult industry, including companies, creators and other stakeholders, to provide feedback to help it establish new regulations under the recent Online Safety Act — regulations that will impact the accessibility of online adult content.

Critics Lambast Revised Version of Controversial KOSA Bill

The main U.S. Senate sponsors of the controversial Kids Online Safety Act (KOSA) have released a new version of the bill, which they claim addresses privacy and censorship issues flagged by opponents, but critics insist the revised version still presents insurmountable problems.

Show More