What is the practical effort of shutting down a US-based classified ad system if Internet is global?

“Trump Signs Bill Amid Momentum to Crack Down on Trafficking” (nytimes):

First, federal authorities seized the classified advertising website Backpage.com last week. Then, a 93-count indictment was unsealed, charging several of its top officials with facilitating prostitution and revealing details about victims including minors as young as 14.

Now, President Trump has signed new anti-sex-trafficking legislation into law on Wednesday. The new law, which passed Congress with near unanimous bipartisan support, will give prosecutors stronger tools to go after similar sites in the future and suspend liability protections for internet companies for the content on their sites.

Not everyone is happy about this…

After Backpage was seized on Friday, the Women’s March group said on Twitter that the result was “an absolute crisis” for sex workers seeking safe communication with clients, drawing criticism.

“Women’s March stands in solidarity with the sex workers’ rights movement,” a spokeswoman for the organization explained on Tuesday. “We believe a world is possible in which no one is trafficked or enslaved, and in which sex workers are not criminalized and ostracized by the state and our movements.”

“Shutting down websites like Craigslist and Backpage pushes sex workers and sex trafficking victims into street-based sex work where they’re at greater risk of violence,” said Ms. Raven, who said she had survived homelessness and engaged in sex to survive as a teenager.

My question, though, is what practical difference do these shutdowns make if the Internet is global? There are plenty of countries in which prostitution is legal (see “Where New York Times readers don’t want to follow Europe: Legalized prostitution”) and where Internet is both legal and available. If Americans want to meet virtually in an online forum, why would they need to do that in a U.S.-based site?

Will the U.S. need a Great Firewall and an outlawing of VPNs to enforce this new law? Or can the Federales somehow go and shut down web servers in foreign countries just as easily as they can in the U.S.?

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14 Comments »

  1. Roger

    April 12, 2018 @ 12:44 pm

    1

    We will soon find out. There is no overseas substitute for Craigslist and Backpage right now, as far as I know. Maybe there will soon be some.

  2. Tony Doe

    April 12, 2018 @ 1:31 pm

    2

    New York Times readers don’t seem interested in importing Europe’s divorce laws either.

    Yes, the feds can have web servers shut down in almost any part of the world and if the host country refuses there’s always DDOS attacks or strong arming the ISPs to block access.

  3. Ray

    April 12, 2018 @ 1:47 pm

    3

    Similar sites that are off-shore based have “voluntarily” suspended operations in light of this legislation. This is an unwise law in many ways, not the least of which is that the government has long used these sites as sting vehicles for capturing the guys who traffic in under age kids. So it reduces their ability to track and apprehend the true outlaws here while depriving many thousands of SWs a safe way to screen and do their business. Other means will arise, as they always do, but this law will mainly serve to increase the risk all around.

  4. Mememe

    April 12, 2018 @ 2:35 pm

    4

    Gay.ru is blocked inside Russia, but still available internationally.

    https://www.advocate.com/world/2018/4/02/lgbt-website-gayru-blocked-within-russia

    The most active part of the site, their escort sections, is hosted on a .com domain:

    http://bbsgayru.com/escort/

    http://bbsgayru.com/escort/ is blocked at Macdonald’s.

  5. Roger

    April 12, 2018 @ 2:36 pm

    5

    This law is going to have an impact on mainstream dating sites. There are lots of women who place ads where they imply that they want sex, and they only want to date a man with money. Many of these are prostitutes. Maybe even most, depending on how the term is defined. I don’t see how the mainstream dating sites will comply with this law.

  6. dwight looi

    April 12, 2018 @ 2:39 pm

    6

    Phillip… the way it works it like this. After they seized or scared US facilitators out of operation within the USA, they make the US banks and payment services not do business with designated foreign facilitators of shit they don’t like. It is the same model whether it is sex provider sites, online gambling sites or online piracy. The end result is that sites will exist off-shore, but they will be UNABLE TO PROCESS US ISSUED CREDIT CARDS or PAYPAL. This makes it very inconvenient for sex workers, Johns, Gamblers, gaming companies or IP bootleggers to pay or receive payment. If there is no money in it the shit fizzles!

    It is surprisingly effective with things like gambling and sex. Not so much with software and music bootlegging online. The difference here is that with the former the motivation is largely financial and the source of the revenue is largely from direct users to forum providers. Cut off the money and nobody wants to do it or use it. With the latter, the revenue can be from a third party running ads of bootleg content engines (which are not necessarily US businesses or individuals) or it is not a money making venture to begin with.

  7. Anon

    April 12, 2018 @ 3:59 pm

    7

    Maybe there is finally a “practical” use for the inefficient smartcontract and blockchain technology we all love to hear about in the form of a slow but distributed classifieds application that cannot be shut down by the government. See e.g. https://github.com/chainskills/chainlist

  8. Fake Elon

    April 12, 2018 @ 5:48 pm

    8

    The christian way is all about the swagger, the cockiness, the $4000 hotel rooms, the short fuse, the alpha, the fake confidence confidence confidence, & the divorce. The sane way was just to pay for intimacy on backpage.com. Funny how the sane is now insane & the insane is now sane.

  9. Ken Hagler

    April 12, 2018 @ 6:35 pm

    9

    It’s not enough for a country to have legal prostitution and legal and available internet. This hypothetical country also needs to be independent and have enough military strength to stand up to the Evil Empire. Further, the people who set up a new site in such a country have to avoid ever setting foot within Imperial borders lest they be kidnapped and put on trial for violating shariah. This means that it’s not enough to stay out of the United States–they also have to avoid the UK, Canada, etc.

  10. dwight looi

    April 12, 2018 @ 8:03 pm

    10

    Ken Hagler… I have always wondered how giving somebody $300 to fuck you is different from buying your “girl friend” a nice purse and a fantastic diner to fuck her? How about buying your mistress a Maserati and an apartment to be on the standby to fuck you anytime you want and shut up about it? All are consensual. All gives both parties what they want. It seems that the only difference with prostitution is the assumption of a guaranteed fuck for the money spent and speed by which it occurs! So, if we are true moral crusaders, why aren’t we banning the material exchange between two individuals that fuck outside of matrimony. Or, mandating a minimum time that has to take place between any material exchange and fucking?

    This is why prostitution enforcement is an exercise in futility. If I tell you I’ll fuck you for sure for $300 it’s illegal. If I tell you that I like strangers who give me $300 and I usually fuck strangers I like, it is technically not illegal. Now we are splitting hairs here aren’t we? This is all literally fucking retarded!

  11. George A.

    April 13, 2018 @ 11:11 am

    11

    This all reminds me of Prohibition [1]. There isn’t much different between the two if you think about it. The only laws we need is protecting those who are underage and sex trafficking victimizes.

    [1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prohibition_in_the_United_States

  12. dwight looi

    April 13, 2018 @ 1:58 pm

    12

    George A… Actually there is a huge difference. You can get drunk, operate a machine and injure someone or yourself. Or, you could be hung over from drinking and can’t work or function. You can be so addicted to drunkenness that you become a danger to yourself or others or both. Alcohol is a mind affecting substance whose effects extend before the act of drinking itself. I haven’t heard of anyone being unable to work because they fucked last night or Driving After Sex causing an accident. Can you be addicted to sex releases? Possibly. But that includes jerking off too! Are we going to regulate and enforce how, when and to what you can jerk off?

    Let’s face it. Humans are going to fuck. Humans are biologically designed to desire fucking. That is why mankind is not extinct by the way. People are going to fuck for love, fuck for security, fuck for money, fuck for kids, fuck for fun and for every fucking reason under the fucking sun. If two individuals want to willingly fuck one another, it is their damn business and not the government’s irrespective of any material exchange that may or may not have occurred or will occur between them. Yeah, if I mow your lawn we cannot fuck. If you buy me dinner we cannot fuck. If I give you 10 bucks we need to go to jail if we fuck. That makes a lot of sense!

  13. George A.

    April 13, 2018 @ 5:13 pm

    13

    @dwight looi

    I wasn’t talking about the effect of alcohol on the alcoholic or society an alcoholic would cause — I was talking about the laws we had for Prohibition and how those laws compares to sex laws we have today.

  14. dwight looi

    April 13, 2018 @ 9:51 pm

    14

    @ George A

    Speaking of that, we had to pass a constitutional amendment to prohibit alcohol sale and consumption. But it seems that we don’t need to do so to prohibit material exchange between two willing adults, and what they willingly do with their own bodies in private. I find it highly ironic.

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