Under federal law, the CDA has created a loophole for pimps and johns to exploit minors through the Internet. This Note uses Backpage as an example of how interactive computer services consistently evade liability under the current language of the CDA, and examines the need for an amendment to the language of the CDA. This Note argues that an interactive computer service should be held responsible under state law if it helps create the content, thus becoming an “information content provider” under the CDA. Part I provides the groundwork for what sex trafficking is and its relationship to prostitution. Additionally, it sets out federal and Washington State laws regarding the sex trafficking of minors over the Internet. Part II discusses how Backpage operates and analyzes J.S. v. Village Voice Media Holdings LLC, a case currently pending in Washington State Superior Court. This section also discusses the recent arrest on pimping charges of Backpage’s CEO Carl Ferrer and the California DOJ’s investigation into Backpage. Lastly, this section discusses why Backpage decided to shut down its “adult” ad section and how it continues to maintain operations across the world. Part III calls on Congress to take action and amend the CDA. Two proposals for amending the CDA are provided that would prevent interactive computer services, which aid in publishing illicit content, from being immune from State liability.
Jacqueline Hackler, Inconsistencies in Combatting the Sex Trafficking of Minors: Backpage’s Deceptive Business Practices Should Not Be Immune from State Law Claims, 40 SEATTLE U. L. REV. 1107 (2017).