City Hall

Dozens of Mayors Ask Backpage to Check Escort IDs

By Erica C. Barnett May 7, 2012

Nearly 50 US mayors, including Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn, signed off on a letter today urging Village Voice Media CEO Jim Larkin to require people advertising escort services on, which VVM owns, to provide photo ID showing they're 18 or older before advertising on the site. VVM owns Seattle Weekly. 

Noting that Backpage, unlike other advertising services, only requires escorts to check a box online saying that they're over 18, the mayors wrote, "We urge you to take quick action and help us address underage sex trafficking by requiring a photo ID for prospective advertisers. We believe this is the only way to provide safeguards against individuals who may be placing advertisements on under aged individuals. We stand ready to discuss this issue with you and hope to hear from you soon that will require a photo ID for prospective advertisers."

The mayors probably shouldn't hold their breath. A similar letter McGinn sent Larkin earlier this month went unanswered. And just today, VVM's attorney, Liz McDougall, wrote an op/ed in the Seattle Times today arguing that Backpage is an "ally" in the battle against child sex trafficking and calling demands for in-person age verification merely "symbolic."
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