Are Police Losing a Tool with Backpage.com?
Police have used the site as a tool to catch traffickers just as traffickers have used to site to do business
The site Backpage.com has removed its adult section after a Senate Homeland Security Investigation found it had knowingly facilitated online sex trafficking.
Law Enforcement has used the site to help catch traffickers.
“The audacity of a group of American citizens wishing to hide behind the first amendment when they exploit children is beyond me,” said North Dakota Senator Heidi Heitkamp during a hearing Tuesday on Capitol Hill.
She’s part of the subcommittee that has been investigating the site since 2015.
Backpage.com is accused of providing an avenue for sex traffickers to advertise their victims.
The report says the website is involved in 73% of all child trafficking reports that the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children receive from the general public.
Backpage.com isn’t removing their adult section quietly.
Instead they’re claiming the U.S. Government has unconstitutionally censored them, but that’s not all.
Backpage.com has also published quotes from supporters who go as far to claim the removal of the adult tab is a “sad day for children victimized by prostitution” and that the site helped police fight trafficking crimes.
Moorhead Police are no strangers when it comes to fighting crime on the website.
“Absolutely we’ve utilized that resource before because it’s such common knowledge that Backpage.com is a place that is and has marketed the exploitation of people,” said Lieutenant Tory Jacobson of Moorhead Police Department.
They said even though this may be a resource they’ve used, they’re glad to see it go.
“No, we do consider this success and we recognize that there’s probably always going to be the next thing,” said Jacobson.
Jacobson says he hopes this report will send a message to other sites like Backpage.com that internet safe havens for illegal activity won’t be tolerated.