Backpage.com officials have been indicted after Federal Bureau of Investigation shutdown

Allow States and Victims to Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act: Senate Passes Bill Making Online Platforms Liable for Third Party Content Enabling Illegal Sex-Trafficking

The online service has sparked a heated debate in recent days since federal authorities seized Backpage on Friday.

Seven people associated with the sex ad website Backpage.com, including its founders Michael Lacey and Jim Larkin, are facing charges of knowingly facilitating prostitution as part of a 93-count indictment that was unsealed on Monday.

We learned last week that the USA government seized the classified website Backpage.com, shut it down completely, and replaced the front page with a disclaimer where it posted the announcement. Earlier that day, according to news reports in Arizona, the Federal Bureau of Investigation had raided the Sedona home of Michael Lacey, a founder of Backpage.

The website's chief executive, Carl Ferrer, is not named in the indictment.

Lacey and Larkin oversaw the website's policies and strategic direction and have "retained significant control over the website", the indictment said.

The law was cited in the indictment, which said Backpage receives the "overwhelming majority" of its revenue from prostitution ads.

In addition, The Washington Post found that Backpage had hired a contractor in the Philippines to solicit ads from prostitutes advertising on other websites, creating ready-made ads for them on Backpage, though Backpage had said it was not involved in creating content.

Lacey even bragged about their contributions to the industry.

A previous version of the law contained a far more reasonable, strategic, approach, barring sites from being operated "with the intent to promote or facilitate the prostitution of another person".

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"Leaving notes...implying that we're aware of prostitution...is enough to lose your job", Padilla said, according to prosecutors.

One 16-year-old girl in Chicago was slain in 2016 after responding to an ad placed by her pimp on Backpage.

The founders of Backpage.com and five others at the classified site have been indicted on federal charges in what authorities say was a scheme to facilitate prostitution by running ads for sexual services and hiding their revenues. Backpage's policy when they found such advertisements was to remove any reference to the child's age.

According to the DOJ, Backpage earned about $500 million in prostitution and illicit activity ads since it launched in 2004. After major credit-card companies blockaded Backpage in 2015, the indictment claims the group accepted money orders and checks made out to other organizations from its customers.

Backpage.com was founded in Arizona, where it is also has banking accounts and servers, according to an official with the USA attorney's office.

Fort said the government's case is impressive because of the challenges it had to overcome, including the use of digital currency, offshore banking, and the anonymity of the internet.

Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.), one of Backpage's leading opponents in Congress, also praised the Justice Department's action.

But the money laundering charges in the Sacramento case against the men is still moving forward.

A decade ago, they were arrested by then-Maricopa County, Arizona, Sheriff Joe Arpaio's office for publishing information about a secret grand jury subpoena for information on its stories and online readers. They won a $3.75 million settlement from county government as a result of their now-discredited arrests. Two other defendants, Scott Spear and John "Jed" Brunst, live in the Valley.

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