Thursday, June 7, 2012

UPDATE: Fed Judge Enjoins Wash. Age-Verifying Law for Adult Ads

Fran├žais : http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christ...(Photo credit: Wikipedia)United States District Court for the Western District of Washington Judge Ricardo Martinez this week issued a temporary restraining order ("TRO") preventing a Washington law from taking effect that would require companies that accept online classified adult ads to verify the age of those offering "adult services."

Democratic Gov. Christine Gregoire signed S.B. 6251 into law last March that subjects violators who don't check ID regarding adult ads to jail time of up to five years and a $10,000 fine (See "TUOL" post 4/3/12). The four-page TRO in Backpage.com, LLC v. Rob McKenna et al. (Case No. 2:12-cv-00954-RSM) enjoins the measure, which was scheduled to take effect June 7, for two weeks pending further litigation. 

Village Voice Media-owned Backpage.com is challenging the constitutionality of the statute, claiming it violates both the First Amendment and the Communications Decency Act of 1996 [47 U.S.C. sec. 230(c)(1)], which states: "No provider or user of an interactive computer service shall be treated as the publisher or speaker of any information provided by another information content provider."  In its complaint, the plaintiff claims requiring providers, both in-state and out-of-state, to determine whether third-party posted content "is an ‘implicit’ ad for a commercial sex act in Washington, and whether it includes a depiction of a person, and, if so, ... maintain a record of the person’s ID...would bring the practice of hosting third-party content to a grinding halt.”

In granting the TRO,  Judge Martinez found: “Backpage.com has shown a likelihood of success on the merits of its claim, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and the Declaratory Judgment Act, 28 U.S.C. § 2201, as well irreparable harm, the balance of equities tipping strongly in its favor, and injury to the public interest, justifying injunctive relief. “



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