He called the Justice Department's action "good news for victims and survivors of online sex trafficking".
The site's founders, Mr. Lacey and Jim Larkin, have said that Backpage notifies law enforcement authorities whenever it becomes aware of illegal activity.
Visitors to the site and its Canadian version backpage.ca were shown a notice by various federal agencies declaring they had seized the domain.
"While this action is long overdue, it is a positive step forward in our efforts to hold accountable sex traffickers that sell women and children online", said a statement from Portman.
The front door of Backpage.com, as of April 6, 2018.
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The U.S. government on Friday seized Backpage.com, a leading general-classified website that has been the subject of extensive investigations during the past few years. But until Friday the website had continued to operate, shielded by free speech protections. "It makes it a lot more complicated for us to figure out what's going on". Some in the sex worker community have said that the site provides them a safe way to meet clients and that removing the site will make their lives more hard.
"Daisy said "...the government is driving workers to streetwalking. you can't properly screen a client in a back alley outside of his auto. vetting sites that escorts used to screen clients are being shut down. this will literally get women killed and raped". The bill would amend the Communications Decency Act and enable state prosecutors and victims of sex trafficking to pursue website operators in both criminal and civil court.
Part of the Department of Justice's issue with websites like backpage.com is that they facilitate sex trafficking by giving sheepish people access to victims that they may not be fearless enough to approach on the street - leading to more business for traffickers and driving up the demand for young children who were forced into prostitution. The bill is now waiting for President Trump's signature.
"This legislation will allow law enforcement to investigate and prosecute individuals and businesses that advertise or facilitate sex trafficking more effectively", agreed Chuck Canterberry, President of the National Fraternal Order of Police.