Google and Facebook Fret Over Anti-Prostitution Bill’s Fallout


Google and Facebook are among companies opposing a Senate bill aimed at squelching online trafficking of children, a stance that makes the Silicon Valley giants uneasy allies of a website accused of providing an advertising platform for teen prostitution.

The companies and tech trade groups say online providers will face greater liability for speech and videos posted by users if U.S. lawmakers move against Backpage.com and its online classified ads. Bill supporters disagree, saying the measure creates a narrow exception to deter lawbreakers and won’t harm the internet.

“There’s clearly a problem” as victims of sex trafficking advertised on Backpage repeatedly lose before judges who cite the federal immunity, said Yiota Souras, general counsel for the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children, a non-profit group. “Time and again victims are getting kicked out of court, even though there’s trafficking going on.”

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