Even child prostitution, it seems, isn’t a good enough reason to force internet service providers to monitor the content they publish. Citing conflicts with the Communications Decency Act, as well as various constitutional conflicts (including the First Amendment), a federal judge recently issued a preliminary injunction barring the state of Washington from enforcing a law that would force services like Backpage.com to personally verify the age of individuals offering sexual services in classified ads. The law would have made sites like Backpage.com, a notorious marketplace for sex sales, criminally responsible if their ads led to sexual abuse of a minor.
The decision is probably the right one given the language of the law but this case should serve as a sign that something’s wrong in how we prioritize online content. Why does the entertainment industry get a stick with which to beat web sites while child prostitutes are left empty-handed?
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