The city of Portland is expected join the city of San Francisco in supporting of a federal lawsuit against online advertiser Backpage.com, which officials say promotes sex trafficking and makes it difficult for law enforcement to track down pimps on the site.
The Oregonian reports that the city council agenda item comes after the strangulation death of a 25-year-old Portland woman, who was allegedly killed by a 24-year-old man she met through an escort service that advertised on Backpage.com and other websites.
Portland and San Francisco attorneys will file a friend of the court brief in support of plaintiffs in the Massachusetts case Jane Doe No. 1, at al, v. Backpage.com, which was filed in U.S. District Court last year. The plaintiffs are three female victims and their families seeking damages against the website that they say makes illegal commercial prostitution possible, and can involve child sex trafficking.
“We hope that Portland’s support of San Francisco’s amicus efforts will have a beneficial impact on young people of both sexes and of all orientations and identities, in all communities, in all neighborhoods, by diminishing the prevalence of human sex trafficking and online promotion of human sex trafficking,” wrote Portland Deputy City Attorney Harry Auerback in a request for council action. “The intent is to enhance the livability of Portland by attacking one of our community’s scourges.”
Backpage.com has made headlines all over the country for similar cases. Northwest News Network reports that a lawsuit was filed by three alleged victims who said as minors, they were sold as prostitutes on Backpage.com. The case has since gone to the Washington Supreme Court.
Backpage.com owner Jim Grant has argued that the website is a content platform, not a content provider, and cannot be held responsible for third-party postings, according to the federal Communications Decency Act of 1996.