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Sex Trafficking Lawsuit Against Backpage.com Can Go Forward

File photo of the Washington state Supreme Court in Olympia.
Cacophony
/
Wikimedia
File photo of the Washington state Supreme Court in Olympia.

The Washington Supreme Court has ruled a lawsuit against Backpage.com can move forward. The six-to-three ruling means the lawsuit can proceed in Pierce County Superior Court.

The suit was brought on behalf of three victims of child sex trafficking. It alleges they were bought and sold for sex Backpage.com, a website owned by Village Voice Media. Writing for the majority, Justice Steven Gonzalez said there are “sufficient facts that, if proved, would show” Backpage helped “to produce the illegal content.”

In a dissenting opinion, Justice Sheryl Gordon McCloud argued Backpage is not a “content provider,” but instead a “service provider” shielded by the Communications Decency Act. That federal law protects web hosts from lawsuits over the content of ads placed on their websites by third-parties.

Copyright 2015 Northwest News Network

Since January 2004, Austin Jenkins has been the Olympia-based political reporter for the Northwest News Network. In that position, Austin covers Northwest politics and public policy, as well as the Washington State Legislature. You can also see Austin on television as host of TVW's (the C–SPAN of Washington State) Emmy-nominated public affairs program "Inside Olympia."