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Master Card pulled out the following day, with a statement that said “Master Card has rules that prohibit our cards from being used for illegal or brand-damaging activities.” Visa followed suit a day later, with a statement saying “Visa’s rules prohibit our network from being used for illegal activity.” In fact, their actions went far beyond the reach of law.

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One cop can shut down a site’s ability to do business simply because it engages in speech he doesn’t like, even if that speech is legally protected. What constitutes “brand-damaging” is a matter of opinion.

Visa and Master Card are fine with doing business with the KKK, for example. Sex workers shouldn’t be the only ones who are concerned about this, even if few people seem to be concerned about sex workers.

The Communications Decency Act of 1996 protects websites from being held responsible for outside content published by its users; attempts to amend or strike down this part of the law in Congress were fought as attacks on free speech, and the law remained unchanged.

Multiple lawsuits against Backpage were also dismissed on constitutional grounds.

He and his department, working closely with anti-sex work organizations such as Demand Abolition, have spearheaded initiatives such as the National Day of Johns Arrests, making hundreds of prostitution-related arrests over a period of years.

In 2009, Dart sued Craigslist in an effort to have that site remove its adult ads.

Preventing these workers from being able to advertise makes it more likely for them to be driven onto the streets, into the hands of pimps or managers, or simply into more desperate poverty.

Politicians may not see this as an issue, but all of us should.

Many of the higher echelons of sex workers in the US don’t advertise on Backpage at all, and those who do are more likely to have the resources to learn how to use Bitcoin, pay high fees for prepaid cards, or move on to more expensive, less accessible sites.

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