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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.

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.

It will, however, impact free speech, and serve to make many sex workers’ lives more difficult.

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Backpage has never had pretensions of being “high-end” or “upscale.” The cost and barrier to entry to advertise on the site are low, and the workers who use it are numerically more likely to be poorer, browner, and less gender-conforming than the smaller and more homogeneous populations of higher-end sites—those with fewer resources, who have fewer options.But Dart and his allies hadn’t been having much luck targeting Backpage, where many workers migrated after they could no longer advertise on Craigslist.Public shaming didn’t work, and attempts to shut down the site failed both legislatively and in the court system.Sex work is criminalized in the US, but not all sex workers are criminalized equally.The war against sex workers mirrors the war on the poor more generally, and those who are members of more criminalized populations get targeted more harshly.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.And what the site itself was doing was legally protected, as courts had found time and time again. Anti-sex work advocates were thrilled with the response, hailing the circumvention of due process as a “progressive” way of going after the site since everything else they had tried had failed to stand up to scrutiny.Dart himself declared it “a great day for all who are engaged in the anti-sex trafficking struggle,” since the companies pulling out would “make the average trafficker or pimp’s life much more difficult.” If anything, the new restrictions will make it easier for the few traffickers or pimps on Backpage to hide, by making it so that people can only pay for advertising via anonymous means instead of traceable ones with their names and information attached.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.Backpage is used in over 80 countries; because credit card companies’ reach is global, their cutting off service to the site affects sex workers worldwide, including those whose work is legal in their jurisdictions.