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  • Geebo 9:05 am on May 10, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: 13th Amendment, , , Florida Abolitionist, , lawsuit   

    Anti-trafficking group uses new approach to sue Backpage 

    Anti-trafficking group uses new approach to sue Backpage

    Backpage has been no stranger to lawsuits in its controversial history. In the past, many of its lawsuits have been dismissed due to protections afforded them by the Communications Decency Act of 1996 which stated that a website was not responsible for third-party content posted by a user. Even with the Allow States and Victims to Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act (FOSTA) being passed into law and the criminal charges being filed against Backpage, a lawsuit win against Backpage still isn’t a slam dunk. However, an anti-trafficking group from Florida is trying a new tactic in an attempt to ensure judicial success against the website.

    In one of their arguments, Florida Abolitionist is claiming that Backpage violated the 13th Amendment rights of the women FA is representing by allowing them to be trafficked on Backpage’s listings. For those of you who may not be familiar with the 13th Amendment, it’s the Amendment that was supposed to end slavery in the United States. The text of the Amendment states…

    Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.

    While the 13th Amendment was designed to end slavery in the wake of the Civil War, the Amendment has rarely been used to show a violation of rights has been committed. With Former Backpage CEO Carl Ferrer recently admitting that Backpage was complicit in the practice of sex trafficking, maybe we’ll see a new landmark case where the 13th Amendment is instrumental in addressing the future rights of trafficking victims.

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

    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.

     
  • Geebo 9:02 am on April 26, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , lawsuit,   

    Victory for Journalism: Peter Thiel agrees not to buy Gawker 

    Victory for Journalism: Peter Thiel agrees not to buy Gawker

    Back in January, billionaire venture capitalist, and possible real life super villain, Peter Thiel made it known that he had plans to bid for Gawker’s remaining asset, that being the website itself. As you may recall, Thiel bankrolled the lawsuit against Gawker filed by former pro-wrestler Hulk Hogan, the same lawsuit that bankrupted Gawker. Most of Gawker’s assets were sold to television network Univision, however, the website itself was not part of that sale. Previously, we speculated that Thiel maybe trying to buy the website in order to erase Gawker’s negative coverage of him and for him to have the ability to sue anyone who may try to republish the Gawker articles. Now, Thiel has reached a legal agreement where he has promised not to buy the now defunct but still online website.

    The administrator of Gawker’s estate sought to block Thiel from bidding in the website claiming that “the auction could have a “chilling effect” on bidding and that the auction would “elicit greater interest and higher bids” without Thiel’s participation.” Thiel agreed not to bid on Gawker after the Gawker estate promised not to further investigate Thiel in order to bring legal action against Thiel for secretly funding several lawsuits against Gawker.

    This is a big deal because it shows that not all media outlets can be bought by billionaires looking to silence any criticism against them. While Gawker may not have been the quintessential bastion of journalism, without curtailing actions against them like Thiel had allegedly planned where would it have stopped? What if it led to someone buying an outlet like the New York Times in order to quash any criticism against them? At that point we may have witnessed the death of objective journalism.

     
  • Geebo 9:01 am on April 20, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , lawsuit, Radcliffe Haughton, Zina Daniel Haughton   

    Court rules lawsuit can continue against Armslist 

    Court rules lawsuit can continue against Armslist

    Image via the New York Post

    We originally posted about Armslist here. Armslist is known as ‘the craigslist of guns’ as it allows private sales of guns between owners and buyers. The site is not without controversy as it has been seen by some as an avenue of illegal gun sales. In many states, private gun sales do not need a background check to be completed. This has led to a number of criminals circumventing the background checks by using Armslist to obtain their firearms. Much like Backpage used to, Armslist has been held relatively harmless in these matters due to the Communications Decency Act of 1996. However, a recent court ruling may see Armslist lose that protection.

    In 2012, Radcliffe Haughton stormed his estranged wife’s workplace in Brookfield, Wisconsin, shooting and killing his wife, Zina Daniel Haughton, and two other victims before turning the gun on himself and taking his own life. Haughton had a domestic violence injunction against him which prevented him from legally owning a gun. He is said to have purchased the gun used in the killings off of Armslist in order to evade any kind of background check. Zina’s daughter, Yasmeen Daniel, had previously tried to sue Armslist for their role in facilitating the gun sale but the suit was dismissed due to the CDA which stated that Armslist was not responsible for what their users may or may not do. Yesterday, However, the Court of Appeals reinstated the lawsuit stating that it can be argued that Armslist is designed to facilitate illegal gun sales.

    Again, all Armslist does to discourage illegal gun sales is to make users click on a button that says they’re over 18 and they’re legally able to purchase a gun and that’s it. While that may be enough to legally absolve them from any wrongdoing it doesn’t absolve them from the fact that by allegedly turning a blind eye to illegal sales there is blood on their hands.

     
  • Geebo 9:28 am on April 2, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , lawsuit, Massachussetts   

    Lawsuit by underage victim to proceed against Backpage 

    Lawsuit by underage victim to proceed against Backpage

    Before FOSTA has been signed into law, a federal judge in Massachusetts has ruled that a lawsuit against Backpage can proceed against them. A woman who was trafficked on Backpage when she was 15, has been trying to sue the website claiming that they knowingly facilitated child prostitution on their platform. The U.S. District Court Judge ruled that there was sufficient evidence showing Backpage allegedly altered the ad between submission and publication.

    Sadly, two similar lawsuits by underage trafficking victims were dismissed by the same judge once again citing section 230 of the Communications Decency Act of 1996. The CDA has long been the statute that Backpage had hidden behind to avoid prosecution and lawsuits from the multitudes of trafficking victims that have been sold into sexual slavery through their ads. Thankfully, that provision of the CDA is about to go away as the Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act (FOSTA) is awaiting a signature from the President to be passed into law.

    While some in the tech industry have decried that FOSTA is the end of the internet as we know it, we once again have to remind them the legislation has been specifically worded to target websites that are knowingly facilitating human trafficking. We also have to remind them that legislators wouldn’t have had to gotten involved if Backpage didn’t insist on making the vast majority of their money through such a heinous practice.

     
  • 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.

     
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