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Fed. Judge Hears Arguments In Case Over Human Trafficking

Sara Lerner

The ongoing scuffle between and Washington state officials is now playing out in federal court. US District Judge Ricardo Martinez heard arguments in Seattle today in a case involving child sex trafficking and technology.


Backpage sued Washington state over a new law which would have taken effect in June. It holds online publishers responsible if a juvenile is sold for sex through their website.

Backpage maintains the law is too vague and is not consistent with federal law. They argue the federal Communications Decency Act protects web providers from being held responsible for what third–party users post on their sites.

A nonprofit called the Internet Archive joined the lawsuit and is also suing Washington and making the same argument. The nonprofit is archiving the Internet on its website called the Wayback Machine. Internet Archive says the federal law is crucial in protecting unfettered free speech online.

Washington state and county attorneys say the law is not overbroad and is tailored towards sites that knowingly profit from prostitution ads.

Seattle Police say the problem is abundant here. They recovered 17 underage victims through in 2012.

Judge Martinez says he hopes to have a decision by the end of next week.

I'm Sara Lerner, KUOW News.

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