Thursday, September 1, 2011

Montana AG keeps eye on adult services website

Posted By on Thu, Sep 1, 2011 at 9:00 AM

Steve Bullock and 44 other state attorneys general continue to keep pressure on Backpage.com and its "Adult" section. In a letter sent earlier this week, the AGs asked the site to prove it's monitoring the section to prevent illegal activity and to willingly provide information in lieu of a subpoena.

"It does not require forensic training to understand that these advertisements are for prostitution," the attorneys general wrote.

Sure enough, a visit to Backpage.com shows "Sexy lil secret" based in the Great Falls area. "Call for booking 24/7, here to cater to ALL your needs that only you deserve!" reads the ad, which is located in the adult escort section, under "Montana."

The letter also says the illegal sex ads work as a magnet for those seeking to exploit minors. The attorneys general point to more than 50 cases, in 22 states over three years, involving the trafficking or attempted trafficking of minors through Backpage.com. The Indy published a cover story earlier this summer about a local prostitution ring that used Craigslist.

The battle against Backpage.com has been going on for about a year. The Indy reported on it when 21 attorneys general, including Bullock, first sent a letter to the site calling for changes. Earlier, the same group of AGs got Craigslist to shut down its adult service ads.

Backpage.com has been less willing to shut down. There was no comment to this week's letter, but last year the site issued a statement: "Backpage.com is committed to the safety and security of our users and we recognize the urgency of implementing solid defense mechanisms to combat those intent on misusing the site. We are pleased to have already identified some significant changes and are working diligently to implement them."

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