AGs unhappy with Backpage.com's resistance to demand
WASHINGTON (Legal Newsline) - A group of state attorneys general has rejected a demand by Backpage.com that the group stop asking for the adult services sections of the site to be taken down.
Liz McDougall, the general counsel of Backpage.com, indicated in a letter that the company would not further converse with the group unless officials agreed in advance to not call for an elimination of adult ads on the website.
The attorneys general made the company's demand public after McDougall claimed in multiple interviews that the company is an ally in the battle against human trafficking.
"It's hypocritical for Backpage representatives to tell the public they cooperate with law enforcement when they've been so unresponsive to the chief law enforcement officers of 48 states and three territories," Washington Attorney General Rob McKenna said. "Now they demand that we take the most effective solution - the removal of adult services - off the table before they're even willing to cooperate."
Attorneys from Backpage took approximately eight months to respond to an August inquiry from the attorneys general about how the site prevents the exploitation of minors. The response, made on March 23, did not fully answer the questions posed, instead presenting an ultimatum that the group drop its request for the adult services section to come down, the AGs claim.
"One reason police are critical of Backpage.com is because too often the victims of prostitution are children," Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster said. "The attorneys general are committed to finding any solution to prevent the adult services section of Backpage from being used for human trafficking. It is disappointing that Backpage will not make the same commitment, and instead demands that we take possible solutions off the table."