The United States government has seized Backpage.com, the controversial classifieds website. A notice informing visitors of the seizure was posted on the site, and a Justice Department spokesperson confirmed the notice.
According to the notice, the website and its affiliates were seized “as part of an enforcement action” by the FBI, as well as other federal and local agencies. The notice provides little other information, saying the Department of Justice will provide more soon.
Backpage was the target of allegations that it facilitated sex trafficking and prostitution through its adult section, a controversy that took years to unwind and culminated in the arrest of the company’s CEO and eventual removal of the adult section.
“The FBI can confirm that law enforcement activity is occurring,” a spokesperson for the FBI’s Phoenix field office told The Verge. The office referred further questions to the Justice Department, which did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Last month, Congress passed controversial legislation meant to give law enforcement more power to stop online sex trafficking. Backpage became a central part of the discussion around the legislation, which many sex workers opposed.