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  • Geebo 10:31 am on January 24, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Houston, , lawsuit,   

    Backpage facing yet another trafficking lawsuit 

    Backpage facing yet another trafficking lawsuit

    In the past year or so, a number of lawsuits have been filed against Backpage, the site that tries to disguise itself as a classifieds site but makes most of its money off of sex trafficking ads. Some of these lawsuits have come from families whose daughters were killed in the sex trafficking trade. Others have come from women who were trafficked while underage on Backpage. The one thing that all these lawsuits have in common is that Backpage took money for these ads while knowing exactly what they were for.

    Most recently, Backpage is being sued by an 18-year-old woman from Houston, Texas. She says that she was 15 when she was advertised on Backpage. Her lawsuit alleges that Backpage knowingly edited ads to hide evidence of child sex trafficking. This is the basis of most of the recent lawsuits against Backpage as a Congressional investigative committee found evidence that Backpage was allegedly actively editing their ads in this manner. Due to the findings of that investigation, Backpage has settled at least one lawsuit filed against them by trafficking victims.

    Since Congress has been dragging their feet on providing any kind of real legislative protection for Backpage’s trafficking victims, maybe hitting them in their pockets for millions of dollars in settlements will finally make Backpage realize that it’s not worth it being in the business of selling people.

     
  • Geebo 10:29 am on December 28, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Ashley Benson, , , lawsuit, Oregon   

    Backpage being sued in the death of trafficked woman 

    Backpage being sued in the death of trafficked woman

    Recently, it was announced that controversial classifieds site Backpage was being sued again over its alleged role in the sex trafficking trade. Backpage is being sued by the estate of Ashley Benson who was said to have been trafficked on Backpage by an abusive pimp. In 2014, she was strangled to death in a Portland, Oregon, hotel by a john who had been stalking her through Backpage. The lawsuit accuses Backpage of failing to prevent sex trafficking and prostitution on its site and changes user-generated ads in an attempt to downplay the trafficking aspect.

    Historically, Backpage has been successful in court against such lawsuits y hiding behind the antiquated Communications Decency Act of 1996. However, that protection is starting to diminish for Backpage after a Congressional investigative committee found evidence that Backpage was editing the user submitted ads to their legal advantage. After that discovery was made public Backpage settled a major lawsuit in the State of Washington where they were being sued by woman who said they were trafficked on Backpage while being underage.

    With Congress pressing to have the Communications Decency act to be amended to remove protections for websites that traffic women and children, if that legislation is made into law, we could see the floodgates open with lawsuit after lawsuit against Backpage. In the end, that may be the better way to finally put a stop to their hand in sex trafficking as it could potentially take away what Backpage cares about most, the money they make off of the victims of human trafficking.

     
  • Geebo 9:01 am on October 4, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , lawsuit   

    Backpage settles child sex trafficking lawsuit 

    Backpage settles child sex trafficking lawsuit

    Back in 2012, three women filed a lawsuit against Backpage in the state of Washington. They claimed they were underage when they were forcibly trafficked for sex on the website. Previous lawsuits like this filed against Backpage have failed, however, in 2015, the Washington State Supreme Court ruled the lawsuit could proceed.

    Yesterday, it was reported Backpage settled the lawsuit with these women, although the details of the settlement have remain undisclosed.

    This story has huge implications when it comes to the future of trafficking on Backpage. The first is, you probably shouldn’t think this is some magnanimous move on Backpage’s part. This is more than likely an attempt to try to get into the good graces of Congress, who supposedly has evidence of criminal activity in the way Backpage edits their ‘adult’ ads. Secondly, this could pave the way either for future settlements or for similar lawsuits pending against Backpage to proceed in states like Texas, California and Alabama. This and future settlements could cost Backpage a pretty penny which could turn Backpage into a company that is no longer profitable.

    Could this be the heads of Backpage trying to ‘donate’ their way out of criminal prosecution? That remains to be seen.

     
  • Geebo 8:54 am on August 28, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: lawsuit, , ,   

    Zillow has Zestimate lawsuit thrown out 

    Zillow has Zestimate lawsuit thrown out

    Back in May, we posted how real estate site Zillow was being sued over their ‘Zestimate’ feature. The lawsuit claimed Zillow’s estimates were undervaluing the homes which were being sold on Zillow and that Zestimates were a de facto appraisal. In Illinois, where the suit was filed, all real estate appraisers have to be licensed in the state.

    Zillow can breathe a zigh of relief for now, as the lawsuit has been dismissed by a U.S. District Judge in Chicago. The judge ruled the portmanteau of Zillow and estimate, creating Zestimate, clearly shows consumers it is an estimate and not an appraisal and Zestimates were just a starting point for people looking to buy a home. The judge also ruled Zillow did not violate Illinois’ Real Estate Appraiser Licensing Act.

    The plaintiffs will no doubt try to file an amended lawsuit since they still claim Zestimates are affecting property values negatively.

     
  • Geebo 10:45 am on February 27, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , lawsuit,   

    Could you be violating your lease by using Airbnb? 

    Could you be violating your lease by using Airbnb?

    As you may know, Airbnb is a service that allows you to rent out your house or apartment on a short-term basis. The problem is that if you currently rent your home you could be violating your lease by renting the property out on Airbnb. Many leases include clauses that prohibit subletting or subleasing which could cause the breaking of the lease by renting out the residence on even a short-term basis.

    It’s gotten so bad for one property management company in California that they’re suing Airbnb. The company says that by having their tenants sublease their apartments it’s caused security and safety issues for their residents. The rental company states that Airbnb is complicit in encouraging their tenants to break their leases. Airbnb has largely stayed silent about the suit with many stating that it’s the users fault for violating their own leases.

    Airbnb renters have been seen as a nuisance in a number of jurisdictions that local governments have heavily regulated the service.

    Is Airbnb largely ignoring a problem that they consider out of their hands or are they encouraging renters to willingly break their leases? Only time and the courts will tell.

     
  • Geebo 10:56 am on January 26, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , lawsuit   

    Backpage sued by underage trafficking victims and why these suits are different 

    Backpage sued by underage trafficking victims and why these suits are different

    Yesterday, multiple lawsuits were filed against Backpage in four different states by victims who were trafficked on Backpage for sex while they were underage. At the times these victims were being trafficked they ranged in ages from 14 to 17. The suits, filed in California, Alabama, Texas, and Washington, claim that Backpage knowingly profited from the trade of underage girls on its website.

    Lawsuits like these are nothing new for Backpage. Two of the more newsworthy lawsuits were filed in Massachusetts and Washington, but unfortunately those lawsuits were defeated in the courts. These new lawsuits are different that their predecessors for two reasons. The first is the fact that Backpage heads Carl Ferrer, Michael Lacey and James Larkin are being named in the suit. The second reason is that these are the first suits being filed after the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations found that Backpage allegedly edits their ads to make the victims appear of age. Previously the Communications Decency Act of 1996 protected Backpage in these suits because the CDA states that a website’s owner is not criminally responsible for the content that their users post. However, if Backpage is editing the ads that their users post, that could render their CDA defense null and void.

    Much has been made in the news about how Backpage shut down their adult section only to have it turn out that the trafficking ads have migrated to the personals section where Backpage is still making money from them. Since Backpage only cares about the money they make, maybe these lawsuits will finally strike a blow against them that will finally make them reconsider their business model of slavery.

     
  • Geebo 11:14 am on January 12, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , lawsuit, Shiva Ayyadurai, Techdirt   

    Is Techdirt about to meet the same fate as Gawker? 

    Is Techdirt about to meet the same fate as Gawker?

    As followers of industry news may remember news blog Gawker and its parent company Gawker Media were sued into bankruptcy. Pro wrestler Hulk Hogan sued them for posting his now infamous tape of his indiscretions with his best friend’s wife. Then it turned out that the lawsuit was bankrolled by venture capitalist Peter Thiel who had a personal grudge against Gawker. Now tech news blog Techdirt may be meeting a similar fate.

    Techdirt is currently being sued by Shiva Ayyadurai. Mr. Ayyadurai claims to be the inventor of email stating that he invented it while working at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey at the age of 14. He has even trademarked the phrase ‘The Inventor of Email’ and his website is inventorofemail.com. Techdirt has maintained that Mr. Ayyadurai is hardly the inventor of email and has posted stories to that effect.

    The reason that this lawsuit smacks of the Gawker suit is because Mr. Ayyadurai has employed the same law firm used by Peter Thiel and Hulk Hogan against Gawker. Unlike Gawker, Techdirt does not have the financial backing that Gawker did and even if Techdirt is found to be not guilty of libel, the financial aspect of the lawsuit could potentially bankrupt the news site.

    This is just another chapter in the recent history of those with deep pockets trying to silent the media who have opposing viewpoints against them. While Peter Thiel was not the first he sure seemed to make it more acceptable to do so.

     
  • Geebo 9:55 am on September 27, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , lawsuit, Palantir,   

    Company founded by Peter Thiel sued for discrimination 

    Company founded by Peter Thiel sued for discrimination

    In what some may call a bit of irony, a company co-founded by Peter Thiel is being sued by the US Department of Labor over discrimination allegations. Security company Palantir is being accused of allegedly discriminating against Asian applicants. The lawsuit claims that Palantir routinely denied Asian applicants either at the resume stage or after phone interviews.

    Palantir is no mere tech start-up either. They specialize in tracking down terrorist activity and financial fraud with their software. They’ve been credited with assisting the government in finding Osama Bin Laden and have several government contracts with many military and investigative branches of the government. These contracts are said to be valued in the hundreds of millions of dollars and Palantir itself is valued at $20 billion.

    The reason some may find this bit of news ironic is because of Peter Thiel’s financially backed lawsuits against the former Gawker Media, most famously the Hulk Hogan lawsuit that drove Gawker into bankruptcy. It’s been alleged that Thiel backed these lawsuits as a form of payback against Gawker who outed Thiel as gay on their website. Some may even say that Gawker’s story could be considered discriminatory. So, on the surface it could appear that there could be double standards at play. However, if the lawsuit does have merit and is successful, it’s very doubtful that the government would order a settlement that would bankrupt Palantir.

     
  • Geebo 11:30 am on June 15, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , lawsuit, ,   

    Is Peter Thiel suing Gawker over Donald Trump’s hair? 

    Is Peter Thiel suing Gawker over Donald Trump's hair?

    From the ridiculous to the sublime.

    Just when you thought the feud between venture capitalist Peter Thiel and Gawker Media couldn’t get anymore strange comes the news that Thiel’s team of legal attack dogs of Harder Mirell & Abrams are threatening more legal action against Gawker over Donald Trump’s hair.

    One of Gawker’s reporters, Ashley Feinberg, has claimed that she has solved the mystery of Donald Trump’s infamous coiffure. In a Gawker blog post she claims that The Donald’s hair is actually an expensive hairpiece produced by a company named Ivari International. Ivari, while being represented by Charles J. Harder, of the above named legal firm, sent a letter to Gawker…

    Thiel’s lawyer-for-hire, Charles J. Harder, sent Gawker a letter on behalf of Ivari International’s owner and namesake, Edward Ivari, in which Harder claims that Feinberg’s story was “false and defamatory,” invaded Ivari’s privacy, intentionally inflicted emotional distress, and committed “tortious interference” with Ivari’s business relations.

    As it currently stands, Thiel backed lawsuits are already draining Gawker of all available capital. How much more money does he think that his paid proxies can bleed from an already drained stone and is Donald Trump’s hair really the hill that he wants to die on?

    In this blogger’s opinion this recent threat of legal action shows not only how petty Thiel has become and not only how much he’s abusing the legal system but also shows how much he’s willing to strong-arm a media outlet into non-existence. What happens when a media giant like the Washington Post or the New York Times reports something about Thiel that he doesn’t like? Will he back lawsuits against them too and if so where does it end? What’s stopping other billionaires from funding lawsuits by proxy against the media? Will they all try to sue the media out of existence? Granted, that’s an extreme scenario that is unlikely to come to pass but how many journalistic voices could fall in the meantime?

     
  • Geebo 9:59 am on June 14, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , lawsuit, ,   

    Gawker Bankruptcy: A defeat for a free press 

    Gawker Bankruptcy: A defeat for a free press

    This past weekend it was announced that Gawker has filed for bankruptcy in the wake of the $140 million settlement awarded to Hulk Hogan in a lawsuit funded by venture capitalist Peter Thiel. However, while Gawker may have lost the battle the war rages on.

    While Gawker has declared bankruptcy to protect itself against creditors it’s not yet officially out of business. Not only is media publishing company Ziff Davis looking to buy Gawker but Gawker is exploring legal options against Peter Thiel to see if his funding of lawsuits against them violated any laws.

    As has been mentioned before on this blog, Peter Thiel’s and Hulk Hogan’s win over Gawker sets a dangerous precedent of billionaires being able to squelch the press if they don’t agree with or even like the content. It’s reminiscent of old gangster movies where a heavy would threaten a store owner. It’s almost like Peter Thiel told Gawker media “You have a nice network here, it would be a shame if something happened to it.”

     
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