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SeattleCrime.com: McKenna, 44 Other AGs Demand Records from Backpage

By Erica C. Barnett August 31, 2011

Over at SeattleCrime.com, Jonah Spangenthal-Lee has the scoop that Washington State Attorney General Rob McKenna, along with 44 other state attorneys general, has asked Village Voice Media's Backpage.com to turn over records that would substantiate their claims that they're working to prevent children from being sold into the sex trade on the site. Village Voice Media owns both Backpage, which has been definitively linked to several local cases of child sex trafficking, and Seattle Weekly, whose editor, Mike Seely, has argued that it would be impossible for Backpage to screen all its Seattle-based escorts to ensure that they're 18 or older.

(Seely also claimed, on KUOW, that allowing pimps to advertise children on Backpage was like "putting out fruit" to attract fruit flies: I.e., that the Weekly is actually helping police by advertising child prostitutes.)
In a letter sent to Backpage's lawyers this morning, the AGs refer to Backpage as a "hub" for trafficking minors and notes that juvenile prostitution has been linked to Backpage in 22 states.

"Backpage sets a minimal bar for content review," the letter says.

The AGs have asked Backpage to provide records going back to 2010 "in lieu of a subpoena" to show how many ads Backpage staff have actually reviewed.

McKenna is holding a press conference to announce the AGs' demands this morning.
 
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