McKenna threatens legal action against Backpage, if necessary

Aug 31, 2011

The Washington State Attorney General wants a top provider of online adult sex ads to prove it’s operating legally, calls Backpage.com a hub for human trafficking.

State Attorney General Rob McKenna says traffickers who exploit kids and adults shouldn’t be provided with an online clearinghouse.  And he says that’s exactly what Backpage.com does.

The company which is owned by Village Voice Media runs adult services and “escort” ads in the Seattle Weekly. McKenna says hundreds of those ads have been found to promote child sex trafficking and other illegal activities. He wants the ads taken down altogether.

“We’re saying, 'Look do the right thing here.'  There are children who are being raped, there are adult victims of human trafficking who are being sexually exploited. How can you in good conscience make huge amounts of money from that activity. They’re making, we think around $23 or $24 million a year from human traffickers.”

Backpage.com says it has strict policies to prevent illegal activity. McKenna and 45 other attorneys general have sent a letter to the company asking for proof. McKenna says the states will explore legal action if necessary.

Earlier this summer, Seattle mayor Mike McGinn ordered the city to stop advertising in the Seattle Weekly because of concerns over child prostitution linked to the ads.