Backpage.com sues state over human trafficking law

Federal Way, WA|Sex-Trafficking Minors|Add Comment
By: GREG ALLMAIN - Cartoon by Frank Schiers, Federal Way Mirror
Backpage Cartoon by Frank Shiers - Federal Way Mirror

Backpage.com, the website under fire for its adult services sections, fired a volley back at Washington state this week with the announcement of a lawsuit.

Backpage is suing Washington over an anti-human trafficking law recently enacted in the state. The move seems especially egregious to law enforcement officers, among them state Attorney General Rob McKenna, because of Backpage executives' recent claims of being allies in the fight against human trafficking.

"They filed a lawsuit to kill a law written to reduce the number of children posted for sale online," McKenna said. "On behalf of the people of Washington state, and on behalf of human trafficking victims everywhere, we will forcefully defend this groundbreaking law."

The law McKenna references is Senate Bill 6251, which "makes it a crime to advertise minors for commercial sex acts and provides an affirmative defense if identification is checked before sex ads are placed online." A judge has temporarily blocked the law, according to the Seattle Times.

The increasingly notorious website claims it can't be held responsible for the ads placed on its site. Backpage only charges for the ads to be placed, but does not create the content of the ads themselves.

McKenna's office announced in 2011 that more than 50 cases of human trafficking involving children had taken place through Backpage's adult services section. Those cases spanned across 22 states and over the course of three years, according to the AG's office. The number has grown since the story first broke, as other media and bloggers have added to the case numbers since 2011. McKenna believes that there are still even more cases that have yet to be discovered.

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