Tag Archive: attorneys general

State AGs strike back(page)

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AGs want Backpage.com to explain procedures:

This week in Olympia, Washington 45 state Attorneys General have called on the Village Voice Media owned backpage.com to prove if and how they are monitoring the site for illegal activity, specifically the trafficking of children. The AGs also said that “they are asking the company to willingly provide information in lieu of a subpoena.” That basically translates to start making real changes or we’ll do to you what we did to craigslist.

I await VVM’s response with bated breath. I’ll get a mint for that later though.

Also keep an eye on this post for the next couple of days for more news out of the AGs.

Thanks to Seymore for the tip.

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Officials asking how website handles adult ads:

According to this article dated 8/31/2011…

Carl Ferrer, a spokesman for Backpage owner Village Voice Media, did not immediately respond to a message seeking comment.

That’s a shock. They’ll probably unleash their responses through a series of snarky editorials saying that child prostitution is a freedom of speech issue.

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McKenna, other AGs want Backpage.com to explain its ‘escort’ ads:

This is a great article about Washington Attorney General Mike McKenna who spearheaded this latest campaign against backpage.

I urge you to read the entire article but let me hit you with some quotes.

The first about backpage itself…

“We believe Backpage.com sets a minimal bar for content review in an effort to temper public condemnation, while ensuring that the revenue spigot provided by prostitution advertising remains intact,”

And about prostitution in general…

“People look at prostitution and think it’s a choice, but there are very few, if any, volunteers,” he said. “The more we learn about sex trafficking, the more we believe it is dominated by individuals exploiting both children and adults.”

He’s 100% right even though a lot of you would deny it just so you can pay to get your jollies.

Also in the article it states that the AGs have given VVM a September 14th deadline to respond.

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Boston sex slave case behind action against Backpage.com:

Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley is one of the AGs involved in this movement. She says that she signed off on the letter to backpage because of an incident where a Mass. man held a 15-year-old girl captive and sold her as a sex slave on backpage. You can read about that here.

Also an attorney for backpage by the name of Samuel Fifer has said this about the AGs’ letter…

“we have received the letter, are looking at it carefully and are working diligently on a response.”

Again see my comment above about snarky editorials.

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Kansas joins investigation of Backpage sex ads:

Kansas AG Derek Schmidt is also one of the AGs involved and he had this to say about backpage…

“The evidence shows that traffickers use these websites to promote their illegal activity,” Schmidt said in a statement from his office. “We ask that all online advertising services join our efforts to reduce sex trafficking by enforcing strict but reasonable screening and monitoring policies.”

I wish Mr. Schmidt wasn’t so almost non-committal to the cause. In my opinion it would have been better if he said that he wishes online advertising would eliminate trafficking ads altogether.

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Day 2

Attorney General Pam Bondi and 45 Other Attorneys General to Backpage.com: Prove You Are Fighting Human Trafficking:

Florida AG Pam Biondi, in case you couldn’t tell…

“Human trafficking, a form of modern day slavery, exploits people and strips them of their dignity,” stated Attorney General Pam Bondi. “We must collaborate with federal, state and local authorities and other organizations to combat this growing problem.”

Attorney General Bondi added that kids aren’t capable, legally or otherwise, to consent to be sold for sex. And regardless of a prostitute’s
age, it’s difficult to know whether the person advertised is being coerced.

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Iowa AG Joins Effort to Stop Human Trafficking on Backpage.com:

Iowa AG Tom Miller…

To back up their allegations, Miller says more than 50 cases in 22 states involving the trafficking or attempted trafficking of minors were traced back to the website.

I think it’s more than that but I’ve lost count. He continues…

Miller and the others signing the letter want the website to “..do the right thing and pull its ‘adult services’ site.” and to better police ads placed on the site.

At least AG Miller is saying what really needs to be done.

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Ala. AG wants proof website is fighting human trafficking:

Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange, which may be the best name an AG ever had…

He said the only way to prevent the illegal activity from taking place is to shut the site down.

Another AG who tells it like it is.

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Attorney general joins inquiry into website:

Add Oklahoma AG Scott Pruitt to the list as well. No quote from him just yet.

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Alaska AG signs anti-prostitution letter:

Alaska AG John Burns. No quote from him but Deputy AG Richard Svobodny said that the only real way for backpage stop child trafficking would be to get rid of the adult section of their site.

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Jackley Joins AGs In Questioning Website About Sex Trafficking Ads:

South Dakota Attorney General Marty Jackley…

Jackley says many attorneys general worry Backpage.com is trying to minimize the impact of child sex trafficking and shift attention away from the company’s profitable advertising business.

Translation: Backpage is trying to deflect blame from itself.

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Attorney General Koster calls on backpage.com:

Missouri AG Chris Koster is in as well. He was also a big proponent of craigslist shutting down adult services as well.

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Maine joins other states asking website to halt sex trafficking ads:

From Maine’s Attorney General William Schneider…

“Children are being forced into prostitution and those traffickers are being given a tool to make this deplorable crime even easier.” Schneider said in a statement Thursday. “We urge backpage.com to stop child sex trafficking on the site by completely removing all adult service advertisements.”

Another man with conviction.

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Montana AG keeps eye on adult services website:

Montana AG Steve Bullock joins the fray as well. Another great name for an AG. No quote from Mr. Bullock but a good one from the article…

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.”

I’m sure that’s nothing illegal.

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Day 3

Backlash for Backpage.com:

Maryland Attorney General Douglas F. Gansler…

In a statement, Gansler said traffickers who exploit runaways and other disadvantaged children shouldn’t be provided with a tool that makes “peddling flesh so much easier.”

“Backpage is basically facilitating the supply and demand for child exploitation and prostitution,” Gansler said Thursday. “They’re facilitating crimes and they’re not going to be able to continue to do that. The state has the law on its side. This isn’t a free speech issue, it’s illegal activity.

Emphasis mine. And he’s right you know.

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Day 4

Backpage.com accused of facilitating sex trafficking:

Wisconsin Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen is NOT one of the AGs who signed the letter but it doesn’t mean he isn’t aware of what’s going on with backpage…

When asked why he declined to sign the letter from the attorneys general, Wisconsin Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen, who has focused on fighting Internet crime against children, issued a statement to the Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism saying he has “a policy of not publicly announcing the details of ongoing investigations or publicly negotiating private sector cooperation.”

Illegal activity has occurred on Backpage.com and other websites, Van Hollen said.

Van Hollen encouraged all websites to cooperate with law enforcement to prevent their sites from being “conduits for illegal activity.”

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Wyoming attorney general joins fight against sex trafficking ads:

Wyoming AG Greg Phillips…

“There are a whole lot of minors being exploited,” Phillips said.

Short, sweet and to the point.

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I think you get the idea. And these are only a handful of the AGs that signed the letter.

AGs not dragging their feet on Backpage

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Connecticut’s Blumenthal, Along With Other AGs, Calls for Closure of Backpage.com:

21 state Attorneys General have called upon the Village Voice Media owned Backpage.com to close its adult section. You know, the section where women and children are trafficked and exploited.

Those states include Connecticut, Arkansas, Delaware, Idaho, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, Ohio, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas and Virginia.

Noticeably absent is New York where the Village Voice got its start, Arizona where VVM is now headquartered and California just on general principle.

When the AGs did this with craigslist I called them opportunistic and asked what took them so long. However with backpage while I’m sure there is some opportunism behind the move I have to give the AGs credit for not only acting so swiftly after craigslist shut down adult services but for going after a site that is not nearly well known as craigslist.

Again Backpage could not be reached for comment. They really need to get a mouthpiece that I can make fun of. That would really make history repeat itself.

And to those who bitched that craigslist was made out to be an unfair target I got two words for you.

What does Australia know that the US doesn't?

MySpace hands over known sex offenders; how many unknown?:

One of the problems I’ve had with all the blustering from state attorneys general about MySpace is what are the AGs doing about the predators that haven’t been caught yet? I never see anyone in the American media asking that question yet the Australian media has no problem seeing the same problems that I do.

MySpace, with 180 million registered profiles and still growing, is possibly the world’s largest social networking phenomenon. The US with a population approaching 300 million has an estimated 600,000 registered sex offenders and quite possibly some multiple of that who are unknown and unregistered. This then begs the question of how many unregistered sex offenders and potential would be predators still have profiles on the MySpace site.

In most places, there are more criminals at large than in jails. If MySpace truly is a virtual representation of the physical world, then it stands to reason that wiping the profiles of 7,000 known sex criminals may well be just lopping off the tip of the iceberg. Hopefully, that is not the case.

Yet we still don’t hear what the AG’s are doing to keep sex offenders off the streets. Personally I just hear them pointing the finger at MySpace. Maybe they should clean up their own “house” first before worrying about MySpace.

MySpace refuses AGs’ requests

MySpace won’t release list of sex offenders to states:

In a follow-up to my post about 8 attorneys general who have demanded that MySpace give up all their information about sex offenders using their site, MySpace has flatly denied the request.

MySpace’s chief security officer said the company regularly discloses information to law enforcement officials but the federal Electronic Communications Privacy Act says it can only do so through proper legal channels .

Christian Genetski, an attorney who has represented MySpace, said the Electronic Communications Privacy Act requires subpoenas, court orders, or search warrants.

Um…aren’t attorneys general supposed to be knowledgeable of the law? Then why did MySpace’s lawyers just give them the legal smackdown?