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Salesforce wins claimed sex trafficking lawsuit

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A California appeals court has rejected a lawsuit that claims Bay Area software giant Salesforce helped pimps and traffickers by providing databases and services for a website that advertised adult fox.

The lawsuit claims that a group of 50 plaintiffs, identified as “Jane Does”, were victims of sex trafficking facilitated by the website Backpage, including women alleged to have sold child sex adolescents through the website.

Backpage was shut down by federal authorities and former CEO Carl Ferrer pleaded guilty in 2018 to conspiracy to facilitate prostitution; several corporate organizations associated with Backpage have pleaded guilty to conspiracy related to money laundering. Backpage co-founders Michael Lacey and James Larkin and four former Backpage employees were charged with facilitating prostitution and money laundering in a federal case in Arizona that led to a preliminary hearing in September. .

The lawsuit against Salesforce was first dismissed in March 2020 in San Francisco County Superior Court, on the basis of Section 230 of the Federal Information Discipline Act that protects websites from liability. for the conduct of third parties. A recent ruling in the First Circuit of the California Court of Appeals dismissed the plaintiff’s appeal on the same basis.

Salesforce and Benioff did not respond to requests for comment.

“That’s a valid conclusion,” said Eric Goldman, a Santa Clara University law professor who studies Section 230 issues. “The plaintiffs in this case are alleging that the pimps engaged in sex trafficking and they were helped to do so by running ads on the Backpage and that Backpage was assisted in the operation by Salesforce – the victims. person is only three steps away from Salesforce.”

Goldman noted that Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff called for Section 230 to be repealed when he attacked Facebook for “propaganda” on the social networking site, but Salesforce successfully used that law to dismissed Jane Does’s lawsuit.

Courts are fighting to adopt Section 230, and a Texas court recently ruled in another case against Salesforce, saying that Section 230 may not fully protect the company from liability, Goldman said. “It’s a really murky area,” Goldman said. “No ruling can overturn it unless it’s from the Supreme Court.”

An attorney for the plaintiffs whose company sued Salesforce in the Texas case said they have yet to decide whether to appeal the ruling. The attorney, Annie McAdams, called the rulings upholding Section 230 protections in sex-trafficking cases “a betrayal.”

https://www.mercurynews.com/2022/01/22/salesforce-wins-lawsuit-appeal-after-dozens-of-women-accused-company-of-helping-pimps-and-sex-traffickers/ Salesforce wins claimed sex trafficking lawsuit

Huynh Nguyen

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