The personal ad site Backpage has just had its payment processing terminated by both Visa and Mastercard, following termination by American Express last year. This week, a few phone calls from Chicago-area bureaucrats were enough to get Backpage officially sanctioned by nearly the entire banking establishment.
Rainey Reitman, activism director at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, wrote:
“We shouldn’t have informal pressure from public officials forcing financial service companies into deciding which types of speech should and shouldn’t be allowed. MasterCard and Visa are not supposed to be the arbiters of free speech on the Internet.”
But cryptocurrency is. This point was not lost on the Washington Times, who wrote that Backpage users will now “only be able to pay with Bitcoin.”
The Chicago-area bureaucrats’ “case” against Backpage is slippery and misleading in the extreme. Examine this odd statement printed by USA Today:
“Cook County Sheriff’s Police say they have made more than 800 arrests since 2009 connected to Backpage adult service ads. Fifty of the arrests were for sex trafficking, involuntary servitude or promoting prostitution.”