Michael Lacey and James Larkin are the co-founders of Backpage.com, a classifieds site that became one of the largest marketplaces for buying and selling sex. Federal authorities, alleging that the site promotes crimes like sexual slavery, last year arrested the two, who are waging multiple court battles arguing their ads are protected by the First Amendment.
What’s the ripple effect? Like Backpage.com, tech giants often use Section 230 of the 1996 Communications Decency Act to protect themselves from liability for hosted content. But 2018 legislation undermines that defense, clearing the way, speech advocates warn, for the government to shut down other kinds of websites.