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  • Geebo 10:21 am on March 7, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , lawsuit, Motel 6   

    Facebook sued by human trafficking victim 

    Facebook sued by human trafficking victim

    Social media has long been a tool that human traffickers use to approach their victims. Even going back to the days of MySpace pimps and traffickers would use social media to groom underage victims to come to work for them. These predators look for any vulnerability in their victims to exploit to get their victims to believe in working for the pimps. Most pimps offer a lifestyle of money and luxury while others promise them a better life than what the victims parents are currently providing. So, the question that needs to be asked is should social media platforms be held responsible for the messages sent between traffickers and their underage victims?

    An attorney in Houston thinks the answer to that question is yes. She is suing Facebook on behalf of Jane Doe #19 claiming that Facebook allowed the traffickers to message the then 12-year-old girl for six months before convincing the girl to meet them at a local Motel 6. She was then put up for sale on Backpage where she, unfortunately, was forced to meet with multiple johns. In response to this suit, Facebook released the following statement…

    “Human trafficking is abhorrent and is not allowed on Facebook. We use technology to thwart this kind of abuse and we encourage people to use the reporting links found across our site so that our team of experts can review the content swiftly. Facebook also works closely with anti-trafficking organizations and other technology companies, and we report all apparent instances of child sexual exploitation to NCMEC.”

    Backpage and Motel 6 have also been named in the suit and on those instances, we think the suit has merit. Backpage for the obvious reasons and Motel 6 because they allegedly told the girl’s parents that the victim wasn’t there. However, we’re not so sure that Facebook should be held responsible in this matter. For one, while we sympathize with the victim, no 12-year-old girl should be on Facebook as their terms of service state that a user must be 13-years-old to use their service. I know that sounds like splitting hairs but it’s almost guaranteed it will be brought up by Facebook’s attorneys. Secondly, Facebook, in this case, is just a form of communication. If the girl had been texted by her traffickers should the phone company be sued for allowing traffickers to text her? Then if Facebook starts to monitor messages between users there will be another backlash against Facebook over privacy issues.

    While we hope this girl is able to receive some form of justice with her suits against Backpage and Motel 6, we believe the suit against Facebook holds no merit.

     
  • Geebo 10:04 am on February 13, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Albuquerque, , , , lawsuit, motels   

    Trafficking victim sues Backpage and motel where she was trafficked 

    Trafficking victim sues Backpage and motel where she was trafficked

    As we have stated in the past, just because Backpage is gone that doesn’t mean that the damage they’ve done to their victims has magically disappeared. Many of the victims of Backpage sex trafficking have had to deal with both physical and psychological damage done to them by their traffickers who Backpage helped facilitate. To that end, a number of lawsuits have been filed against Backpage seeking damages for the suffering Backpage allegedly had a hand in creating. One lawsuit recently filed even seeks damages against the motel where the victim was trafficked through Backpage. This is not the first of such lawsuits.

    In this instance, the victim is suing a motel in Albuquerque, New Mexico along with Backpage. The unidentified victim is alleging that not only did Backpage actively edit their ads to remove any reference to the trafficking of underage girls, but the motel “had a duty to exercise reasonable care in discovering that the danger of human trafficking.” The victim, in this case, was 17 when a man claiming to be her boyfriend prostituted her through Backpage at the motel in question.

    The attorneys for the victim state that…

    …the motel failed to properly train staff to look for signs of human trafficking, failed to prevent traffickers from renting a room and didn’t install security devices that could have helped deter or identify human traffickers.

    While there are many motel and hotel chains that are trained in recognizing the signs of human trafficking there are many more who either aren’t trained or just don’t care. I’m sure we can all think of a motel in our own areas that are used primarily for such purposes. Lawsuits like these should be a lesson for other motels to put an end to this practice whether the victims were trafficked online or not.

     
  • Geebo 10:19 am on January 28, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: AMA, , , lawsuit, ,   

    AMA criticizes Armslist in legal brief 

    AMA criticizes Armslist in legal brief

    If you’re unfamiliar with Armslist they are a website that facilitates the sale of firearms between private sellers and buyers. Many have referred to Armslist as the ‘craigslist of guns’. Since there are many states that do not require background checks or waiting periods on private gun sales a number of people who were forbidden from owning guns have used Armslist to circumvent background checks. On more than one occasion, guns purchased through Armslist have been used in a mass shooting. Here is Armslist’s owner commenting on a mass shooting that took place in Chattanooga, Tennessee, in 2015 where the shooter had purchased guns through Armslist.

    If any of that sounds familiar, it’s because it’s the same ‘free speech’ tactic used by Backpage when they were trying to defend their ‘right’ to profit from human trafficking. As has been famously said, patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel.

    This hasn’t prevented people from trying to claim legal recourse against Armslist. A lawsuit has been filed in Wisconsin against Armslist. 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. 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 Communications Decency Act of 1996, again, another Backpage tactic. Back in April of last year, an appeals court ruled that suit can continue claiming that it can be argued that Armslist is designed to facilitate illegal gun sales.

    More recently, the American Medical Association has filed an amicus brief in support of the lawsuit against Armslist. In the brief, the AMA states that “facilitating illegal arms sales does not fall under “traditional publisher functions,” and that the claim of aiding a murder “does not depend on whether Armslist is treated as a publisher.”

    While Armslist doesn’t physically sell firearms to people, they do very little to discourage the illegal sale of firearms outside of making users click on a button that says they’re over 18 and they’re legally able to purchase a gun. That’s not exactly what should be called reasonable steps to help prevent illegal gun sales. That seems to be enough for Armslist through as they continue to make money off of the blood of shooting victims.

     
  • Geebo 10:05 am on October 29, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , lawsuit, Mozilla,   

    California to hold back on net neutrality, for now 

    California to hold back on net neutrality, for now

    California Gov. Jerry Brown

    Always being the trendsetter, the state of California recently passed the most stringent net neutrality laws in the country, defying the edict handed down by the FCC stating that states could not enforce their own net neutrality laws. When the FCC repealed net neutrality protections for consumers they also issued an edict that the individual states could not make their own laws regarding net neutrality which many see as an abuse of power by the FCC. After California Governor Jerry Brown signed California’s net neutrality into law, not only was the Golden State sued by the Trump Administration and a consortium of broadband providers. But now, a third lawsuit has arisen which has caused California to take pause.

    California’s net neutrality was supposed to go into effect on January 1, 2019, however, this past Friday the state of California announced they would be holding off on enforcing net neutrality until a certain lawsuit is settled. Mozilla, the non-profit behind the Firefox browser, is suing the FCC stating that their repeal of net neutrality protections “violates both federal law as well as harms internet users and innovators.” To put it in simpler terms, Mozilla is claiming that it’s beyond the FCC’s scope of powers to interfere with a state’s rights to pass their own legislation on net neutrality.

    So, this isn’t a defeat for net neutrality in California. The state is merely awaiting the outcome of Mozilla’s lawsuit before determining how to move forward with net neutrality as the Mozilla lawsuit could have national ramifications on the states’ rights to enforce net neutrality. Once again, I find it ironic that an administration that supposedly champions states rights is so quick to try to quash those rights when it goes against financial backers who helped get them to the office, to begin with.

     
  • Geebo 9:21 am on October 24, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , lawsuit,   

    Lawsuits over net neutrality fall along party lines 

    Lawsuits over net neutrality fall along party lines

    Ever since the FCC repealed the net neutrality regulations put in place by the Obama administration, a number of states have either enacted their own net neutrality legislation or have sued the FCC to restore the previous federal legislation. If you’ll recall, when the FCC, backed by Chairman Ajit Pai, repealed the protections the FCC claimed that the states could make no laws in regard to net neutrality which many see as the FCC overstepping their legal authority. With states enacting their own legislation in defiance of the FCC this has led to a coalition of internet providers to file their own lawsuits against some states such as California and more recently Vermont.

    22 State Attorneys General and the Attorney General of the District of Columbia have filed a lawsuit against the FCC arguing that the FCC’s decision to repeal net neutrality was arbitrary and capricious and that the FCC can not preempt state laws. Now, the Attorneys General of three other states, Texas, Arkansas, and Nebraska respectively, have filed a brief in support of the FCC’s decision claiming that the states “have an interest in protecting both consumers and purveyors of Internet services.” Somehow, I doubt the esteemed Attorneys General from these three states have the consumers best interest at heart.

    So what’s the difference between the 23 Attorneys General who are suing the FCC and the three that support them? Well, the 23 who are suing are all Democrats while the three in support of the repeal are Republican. While I would never tout one political party over the other if you care about a free an open internet I think it’s obvious where your votes should go next month if this is an issue that matters to you. Even if you’re a Republican party loyalist you have to take notice of the fact that only three red states have weighed in on this matter as the rest have decided to remain on the sidelines.

     
  • Geebo 9:05 am on October 19, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Boston, Kurt Stokinger, lawsuit,   

    Armslist sued by Boston cop shot by illegal gun 

    Armslist sued by Boston cop shot by illegal gun

    Armslist, the so-called ‘craigslist of guns, is back in the news once again. Previously, Armslist has been tied to a domestic violence-related murder and the murder of a Chicago police commander. In both cases, the guns used to commit these crimes were purchased through Armslist by people who were forbidden by law from owning a gun. Much like Backpage did before it was seized by federal investigators, Armslist hides behind the Communications Decency Act of 1996 claiming that they’re not responsible for their users’ actions. A new lawsuit is looking to change Armslist’s tired tune.

    In 2016, Boston Police Officer Kurt Stokinger was shot in the leg by a known drug dealer. The incident left Officer Stokinger with considerable medical issues. The gun used to shoot Officer Stokinger was not only bought through Armslist but the seller had sold over 60 guns with the serial numbers removed. Officer Stokinger is suing Armslist, the shooter, and the seller. The lawsuit claims…

    “Armlist chose to establish an online firearms marketplace which facilitated sales to illegal purchasers and did not include reasonable safeguards to minimize the risks of illegal and dangerous conduct.”

    As has been mentioned before, Armslist falls under the gun show loophole where firearm sales from private sellers do not require a background check. In my opinion, there’s no way Armslist could have gotten into this business without realizing that their platform would be used for a plethora of illegal sales. Much like how Backpage was well aware that they were dealing in the human trafficking trade. And much like how the time eventually came for Backpage, the time will come for Armslist as well if they don’t change their policy of allowing anonymous firearm sales with no regard for human life.

     
  • Geebo 9:00 am on October 4, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , lawsuit,   

    Internet providers file their own suit against California Net Neutrality 

    Internet providers file their own suit against California Net Neutrality

    If you were looking for a sign that the state of California was trying to protect consumers with its new net neutrality legislation, look no further. Four broadband industry groups that represent companies like AT&T, Verizon, Charter, Comcast, and T-Mobile, have joined with the DOJ in suing California. Much like the DOJ, the internet providers are arguing that California is violating federal mandates by imposing their own regulations against providers that perform interstate services.

    Once again, FCC Chairman Ajit Pai tries to spin the FCC’s repeal of net neutrality as pro-consumer. Pai issued a statement that read in part

    “The Internet is inherently an interstate information service. As such, only the federal government can set policy in this area,” Pai said. “Not only is California’s Internet regulation law illegal, it also hurts consumers.”

    California Attorney General Xavier Becerra fired back by referring to the industry groups as ‘power brokers’ who have an ‘interest in maintaining their stronghold’. AG Becerra also released a statement of his own regarding the latest suit.

    “California, the country’s economic engine, has the right to exercise its sovereign powers under the Constitution,” he said in a statement, “and we will do everything we can to protect the right of our 40 million consumers to access information by defending a free and open Internet.”

    It has been shown in the past that the FCC has given little input to the American people who were opposed to the repeal of net neutrality protections ever since they announced their intention to do so, going as far as forbidding the states from make their own net neutrality legislation. This has not stopped the states from defying this edict with California being at the forefront of that movement. With the federal government siding with the major internet providers over the protection of consumers doesn’t it fall to the individual states to do what they can to protect their citizens? This is what ‘states’ rights’ is really about.

     
  • Geebo 9:01 am on October 3, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , lawsuit,   

    Texas woman sues Backpage and Facebook over human trafficking 

    Texas woman sues Backpage and Facebook over human trafficking

    A woman from the Houston, Texas, area, only identified as Jane Doe, has filed a lawsuit against Backpage where she was allegedly trafficked while she was underage. This should come as no surprise as former Backpage CEO Carl Ferrer had admitted to the fact that Backpage knowingly made money off of the sex trafficking of girls and women. Jane Doe is also suing two area Houston hotels which is also not unheard of as many trafficking victims believe that the hotels should do more to be aware of trafficking victims. What is really making headlines about this suit is that the victim has also filed a suit against Facebook for allegedly failing to prevent her from being approached by a pimp.

    The victim claims that she was 15 in 2012 when a pimp first approached her through Facebook. As online traffickers tend to do, the pimp consoled her after a fight with her parents. The pimp was said to be Facebook friends with a number of her real friends and promised the victim a job as a model. When the victim met the pimp she was beaten and sexually assaulted before being advertised on Backpage. The suit claims Facebook allows traffickers to “stalk, exploit, recruit, groom … and extort children into the sex trade.” Even though I’ve been a very vocal critic of Facebook, at first glance I thought the suit against Facebook may have no merit, however, the victim makes a very valid point when it comes to the social media kingpin.

    The victim claims that Facebook allowed her abuser to use a false identity that allowed him to approach the girl. For some time, Facebook has prided itself on having its users use their real names, even going as far as to ban accounts that use pseudonyms. As has been demonstrated in the past, Facebook seems to enforce their own policies rather arbitrarily and haphazardly. While I’m far from being a legal expert it seems that since banning false accounts is a well established and practiced Facebook policy, this policy may allow the suit against Facebook to proceed.

    What’s your opinion? Do you feel that Facebook should be doing more to prevent human trafficking on its platform or is this lawsuit without merit? Please leave your comment and let us know.

     
  • Geebo 9:00 am on October 2, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , Jeff Sessions, lawsuit,   

    California sued by the Trump administration over new net neutrality laws 

    California sued over new net neutrality laws by the Trump administration

    California Gov. Jerry Brown

    This past Sunday, California Governor Jerry Brown signed what’s being called the strictest net neutrality laws in the country for his state. Not surprisingly, the Trump Administration has a problem with this because when the FCC repealed net neutrality regulations earlier this year, they unilaterally proclaimed that states could not enact their own net neutrality legislation. Almost immediately after Governor Brown signed the legislation into law, the DOJ filed a lawsuit against the state of California.

    FCC Chairman, and former Verizon employee, Ajit Pai told reporters that the repeal of net neutrality will lead to “better, faster, cheaper Internet access and more competition.” Right, because there was so much competition in the internet service market prior to net neutrality being enacted. How many internet service providers are available in any given market? While many larger cities may have a choice between the phone company or the cable company when it comes to getting their internet. Many smaller towns only have one provider and that’s it. That’s because many of the big ISPs have entered into agreements with municipalities making them a virtual regional monopoly. Rates haven’t gotten any cheaper either as the big providers like Comcast, Cox, and Verizon continue to raise their rates.

    Commenting on the lawsuit, Attorney General Jeff Sessions said: “the Justice Department should not have to spend valuable time and resources to file this suit today, but we have a duty to defend the prerogatives of the federal government and protect our Constitutional order.” He’s right but not in the way he thinks he is. The DOJ should not be wasting time and resources in this suit because the majority of Americans are in favor of net neutrality. Not that I think the Federal Government will spend too much money on this suit as it appears like a big portion of the Trump Administration has been bought and paid for by the internet service conglomerates, and they’re not even trying to hide it very well.

     
  • Geebo 11:10 am on August 30, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , lawsuit,   

    Indicted Backpage heads start suing each other 

    Indicted Backpage heads start suing each other

    Speaking of Backpage and Delaware, the top brass at the former Backpage are now suing each other in Delaware’s Chancery Court over access to funds allocated for their criminal defense. Through their respective holdings companies, Backapge founders Jim Larkin and Michael Lacey are suing former Backpage CEO Carl Ferrer and 19 others for alleged actions that prevented Lacey and Larkin from accessing legal funds they believe belong to them. For a heavy legalese take on the suit, you can check this article from Law 360.

    If you’ll recall, when Backpage was seized by the Federal Government back in April, Ferrer almost immediately pleaded guilty to various charges of facilitating prostitution through Backpage. Shortly after that, the government froze most if not all of Backpage’s assets. Now, Lacey and Larkin seem to be accusing Ferrer of sitting on retainers to various law firms that could possibly aid Larkin and Lacey in their various legal defenses.

    I’ll be honest, corporate and financial law has never been my strong suit so I can’t give an opinion on if any of these suits have merit. However, in my opinion, it feels like Larkin and Lacey are starting to experience a slight degree of Karma. Many of Backpage’s victims could not take legal action against Backpage for facilitation human trafficking because of either cost or the pre-FOSTA protections that Backpage was undeserving of. Although, I’m pretty sure Lacey and Larkin are far from destitute. Since they have been charged with allegedly laundering money, it wouldn’t surprise me if they had an emergency legal defense fund squirreled away in some offshore holding the government hasn’t found yet.

     
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