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  • Geebo 10:22 am on August 31, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Cook County, ,   

    Police doing fine without Backpage 

    Police doing fine without Backpage

    Ever since the seizure of Backpage by the Federal Government, a number of Backpage’s defenders have said that without Backpage, police are hamstrung in their efforts to curb human trafficking and that instances of human trafficking have not decreased since Backpage’s closure. However, you couldn’t tell that by looking at Cook County, Illinois. The Cook County Sheriff’s Office has a long history of innovating in the fight against online human trafficking and have not rested on their laurels just because Backpage is gone.

    Recently, Cook County and neighboring jurisdictions in Illinois conducted operations that resulted in the arrest of close to 80 alleged johns who were looking for sex online. Authorities placed several ads on various escort websites in order to try to track those interested in buying victims for sexual purposes. Police involved in the operation say that the ads would receive three inquiries per ad while ads on Backpage used to average 17 inquiries per ad. In a region that includes the country’s third largest city, Chicago, this goes to show that Backpage’s closure is having a positive effect in helping to curb human trafficking.

    The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) once said that Backpage was responsible for 80% of all online sex trafficking in the US and that Backpage wasn’t the most helpful when it came to NCMEC’s requests for assistance in helping to find missing children being peddled on Backpage. Backpage could not be both the source of and solution to human trafficking as some would have you believe. Anybody who says that Backpage’s closure hasn’t been a help to the victims of human trafficking is not only selling our police short but is using these excuses to try to justify their own behavior.

     
  • Geebo 9:15 am on June 4, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Cook County, , ,   

    Backpage lawsuit against Cook County Sheriff dismissed 

    Backpage lawsuit against Cook County Sheriff dismissed

    Cook County (Ill.) Sheriff Tom Dart oversees law enforcement in the second most populous county in the country. He has long been an outspoken opponent of the website formerly known as Backpage. Not only did he dedicate a large part of his career to help rescue victims of Backpage’s trafficking, he also often took to the media to try to inform the public about how much of a menace Backpage actually was. Sheriff Dart was obviously relieved when Backpage was finally shuttered.

    One of Sheriff Dart’s more controversial acts against Backpage happened in 2015 when Sheriff Dart wrote to both MasterCard and VISA requesting they stop letting Backpage use their cards as forms of payment for Backpage’s adult ads. The problem with this is Sheriff Dart did not write to these companies as a private citizen but instead as the Cook County Sheriff by using official county letterhead. Backpage saw this as a violation of their right to free speech and a government intrusion. A lawsuit was then filed against Dart by Backpage and an injunction was placed on Sheriff Dart stating he could no longer contact the credit card companies. However, the damage had already been done as the two companies ceased doing business with Backpage. Many consider this decision by VISA and MasterCard as the beginning of the end for Backpage.

    Now, with Backpage being seized by the Federal Government and former CEO Carl Ferrer admitting that Backpage was well aware of its role in human trafficking, the lawsuit against Sheriff Dart has been dismissed. This past Thursday, a federal judge dismissed the suit with Sheriff Dart claiming that the dismissal contained a “certain level of vindication”. While we may not have always agreed with Sheriff Dart’s way of doing things, we’re happy to see that Backpage won’t be able to claim a victory over this tireless defender of the people.

     
  • Geebo 9:22 am on April 27, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Cook County, , ,   

    Leading Backpage opponent wants lawsuit dropped 

    Leading Backpage opponent wants lawsuit dropped

    Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart

    Cook County (Ill.) Sheriff Tom Dart was one of the leading voices in the fight against Backpage. Not only did Sheriff Dart do everything within his power to combat the human trafficking committed through Backpage by conducting various stings and rescue operations, but he also stepped outside of his job to convince credit card companies to stop accepting payments for Backpage ads. While it wasn’t a deathblow for Backpage, it did hurt them where it mattered most, in the wallet. Backpage fought back against Dart by filing a lawsuit over lost profits due to Dart’s interference and had a restraining order placed against him which prevented Dart from further contacting the credit card companies.

    Now, with the federal seizure of Backpage, Sheriff Dart is asking that the lawsuit against him be dismissed. Dart is now arguing that since Backpage CEO Carl Ferrer has admitted that Backpage was predicated on human trafficking and money laundering this should render Backpage’s lawsuit against Dart null and void. Dart himself called the lawsuit a fraud and that it was not based in fact or law.

    While some of Sheriff Dart’s tactics can be considered questionable, the closure of Backpage could not have been done without him. Because of his constant vocal opposition to Backpage in the country’s second most populous county, the Backpage situation may never have received the media attention it did and we would still probably be trying to make people more aware of the problem. Sheriff Dart should be commended for his work against Backpage trafficking and this suit should be dropped immediately since it came to light that Backpage was complicit in the sex trade all along.

     
  • Greg Collier 3:11 pm on August 20, 2015 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Cook County, , , MasterCard, , , , Visa   

    Defending what’s Wrong for the Right Reasons 

    It’s been many years since Geebo removed its personal ads section and I’m happy to say that, over the years, many other sites have followed. But not all of them. One, in particular, has continued to successfully fight legal efforts to shut down the site’s personals section, considered a facilitator of illegal prostitution and sex-trafficking industries.

    That site is Backpage.com and, under most circumstances, I’d use some pretty choice words to express my feelings about the site and its legal team, which invokes the First Amendment to protect its sex-ad revenue pipeline, even at the expense of human lives.

    But this week, as Backpage finds itself back in court over another effort to derail the questionable ads, I find myself having to support Backpage in its legal battle – not because I support what they do but because America is a land of laws and I believe that even the government – especially the government – should abide by them.

    In this case, the government comes in the form of Sheriff Tom Dart of Cook County, Illinois. In his effort to cut off the lifeline of Backpage’s advertising business, he sent letters to both MasterCard and Visa, calling on them to cease business with the site over concerns about the adult services section of the site – and a short time later, they did just that.

    To me, those letters sure do feel like government overreach, a threat by the head of the law-enforcement agency of the second-largest county in the nation. Naturally, Backpage wants a court injunction forcing Dart to rescind the letters, which is what a federal judge will be considering during a hearing later this week, according to USA Today.

    Meanwhile, the site has filed suit against the sheriff, accusing him of violating free speech rights of individuals who use the service to post ads, according to the Wall Street Journal.

    As much as I would love to see Visa and MasterCard pull the plug on Backpage once and for all, just as American Express has already done, the credit card companies would need to decide that out of moral conscience or what’s best for business or even and organized public pressure campaign. But this sheriff should not be allowed to bully the largest credit card companies a key player in the financial engine that keeps the dollars flowing in and out of a business, so long as that business is operating within the law.

    It pains me to note Backpage’s success in fighting off legal efforts to take it down, but, by all rights, this latest effort should be a clean win for them again. The courts should grant the injunction and force Sheriff Dart to rescind his letters.

    If that happens, I can only hope that MasterCard and Visa executives decide that doing business with Backpage isn’t worth the headaches that come with their relationship and they’ll just keep those ties severed for good.

    Then, I’ll truly feel like I’m back on the side of good again.

     
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