CNBC is reporting that popular advertising site Backpage has been seized by the FBI in combination with state authorities and the IRS.
Backpage has been in trouble with authorities in the past because of sex-worker ads running on the site. The apparent cause of the current action claims that the site facilitates the sex trafficking of women and miners.
This is a disturbing development not because of the authorities’ desire to protect exploited women and children, but because their heavy-handed tactics also punish the innocent along with guilty.
Sex services, though viewed moralistically in the US, are no more-or-less valid than any other. Rather, by coming down on things like sex services and drugs, the government forces them underground, creating the environment for not less, but much more, abuse. It was the prohibition that made the mafia the force it became. It was the war against drugs that created drug lords.
It is unfortunate that those in power don’t realize that the more they close their grasp, the more they lose control and the more dangerous they make life for everyone. Congress should be legalizing and legitimizing sex services and drugs – key revenue streams of criminals – and applying sensible regulations to prevent and punish abuse.
That’s not how power works, though, and that’s why bitcoin will eventually succeed.