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Federal Judge Blocks Enforcement of TN Law Targeting Online Sex Ads

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — A federal judge has ruled that a Tennessee law passed last year that targets online sex ads violates free speech rights.
The Tennessean (http://tnne.ws/136AxGB) cited an opinion written by Judge John T. Nixon that says the law is written in a way that infringes on freedom of speech and interstate commerce laws. The purpose of the law is to protect children from sex trafficking.
The issue went to court when Backpage.com filed a lawsuit alleging the new regulation violated the First Amendment and other federal protections. Backpage.com publishes millions of ads each month, including those that sell adult services, and said it would be impossible to screen every ad posted to its site and the law hurt its business.
Nixon granted the company’s request for a temporary restraining order against the law.
Antoinette Welch, assistant district attorney in Nashville, said websites like Backpage are used in a majority of sex trafficking case prosecuted by the district attorney general’s office.
“The websites are helping to promote something illegal, and children and women are being sold on their sites,” Welch said. “They should be held responsible, fined at the very least.

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