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In the United States, both the House of Representatives and the Senate have proposed legislation that is supposed to combat sex trafficking. Neither has been signed into law yet, but both take aim at sites that appear to permit or turn a blind eye to advertising illegal sex work in an effort to combat sex trafficking. A concept called safe harbor plays a crucial role here. When Congress passed the Communications Decency Act in , they included a passage that provides protection for websites.

Essentially, the concept is that a website's administrator isn't responsible for the content created by that website's users. Rather the administrator is offering up a website as a platform and isn't responsible for the way that people use that platform. But both the proposed FOSTA and SESTA legislation argue that the safe harbor concept wasn't meant to protect people who knowingly allow illegal transactions to occur on their platforms.

The charges against Backpage's executives state that they knew of and perhaps even welcomed ads from people guilty of sex trafficking. If evidence supports these accusations, the officials could face large fines and prison sentences, even without the proposed legislation becoming law. In July , The Washington Post published an article that alleged a contractor hired by Backpage had run a campaign in the Philippines to lure advertisers away from competitors to use Backpage.

The article also stated that the company had previously edited language in ads for sex that suggested the involvement of minors rather than deleting the ads from the site. Backpage officials, for their part, have said they cooperate with officials to detect and stop cases of sex trafficking. They argue that Backpage. They say that without them, investigators would face many more challenges to find criminals and sex trafficking would continue but be harder to detect.

The proposed legislation and the takedown of Backpage. Advocates for the legislation point to very real, tragic stories of people who were forced into lives of sexual exploitation. These people, some of whom are minors, have little to no agency of their own. But critics of the legislation say that not only will moves like the silencing of Backpage. The real problem that should be addressed, say the critics, is the stigma against sex work in general.

They argue that criminalizing sex work creates the very market for sex trafficking, and that decriminalization and regulation could not only eliminate sex trafficking but also improve the lives of people who have chosen to be sex workers. The criminality of prostitution creates a very tricky situation. There will continue to be a demand for such services, and where there is a demand there will be a supply.

These were men of their time, and their aesthetic interest in the ancient world was throttled by Christian prudery. Among the fine artifacts of white-marbled antiquity—perfectly engineered aqueducts and Doric colonnades—were baldly erotic frescos; lewd graffiti; and penises everywhere, strung from wind chimes, arcing out of walls, clustered on the paving stones like mushrooms.

Administrators resolved this by dividing up their finds, displaying the glorious colonnades while bricking up the frescos and dick pottery from public view. As if the former could exist without the latter; were not financed by it completely. The bill would criminalize the buyers of sex as well as people who work with sex workers known as third parties , in place of the workers themselves.

The most recent amendments to Bill C36 removed a provision that would prosecute sellers—sex workers—for advertising their own services when these ads could be seen by people under the age of Third-party advertisers remain liable. They could use a variety of third-party advertisers that link back to their personal websites, they could advertise via social media such as Twitter and Facebook, and they could also advertise in newspapers.

And there will be consequences that stretch beyond the adult industry, into licit spheres that are propped up, whether we realize it or not, by the invisible economy of sex work. Take The Grid , an acclaimed Toronto alt-weekly owned by Star Media Group, which folded due to revenue shortage this June after only two years on newsstands.

And so, for its run, The Grid engaged in a very incongruous bit of editorial NIMBY -ism, publishing all manner of stories in support of sex workers full disclosure: I wrote one of them while refusing to run their ads. It was more nuanced than that: Excising them, he says, was more of a business decision than a moral one. In addition, NOW works with sex worker organizations and provides weekly tips in the magazine to ensure safer services. And the less secretive publishers are about this relationship, the better they seem to do: A common refrain of anti-prostitution activism is that sex work is now almost entirely online, a claim than employs the technophobic narrative of decline to make the sex industry seem more dangerous than ever one commenter called Internet-based sex work a postmodern form of abuse.

There is no question that online advertising has transformed the sex industry, but in fact, ads for sexual services are far from endangered, and appear in print publications as diverse as the Toronto Sun and the New York Review of Books which runs them alongside personals ads. The ad situation at these major publications is highly regulated but little-discussed.

Euphemism is the rule: Emily Rushton, an escort in her 30s who tours both cities and smaller towns around Ontario, explains that region is a factor, too.

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