RAPID CITY, S.D. (KOTA TV) - Backpage.com has suspended its sexual advertising in relation to the ongoing human trafficking fight.
“South Dakota children are falling victim to sexual crimes including internet crimes against children. I commend the Nation’s Attorneys General community for taking on this important fight to protect against sources like Backpage.com that actively promote and refuse to cooperate in the prevention of child sex trafficking,” said Attorney General Jackley.
In South Dakota, state, local and federal law enforcement have run operations designed to protect children and remove sexual predators from the street. To date, ten operations involving 47 arrests have been made, with many ads in the operations having been placed on Backpage.com.
Preventing kids from being trafficked on the internet has been a long-term effort of the National Association of Attorneys General (NAAG). NAAG has taken several actions regarding Backpage.com and similar websites, including requesting that these exploitive websites shut down their sections which fuel the online trafficking of youth.
On July 23, 2013, South Dakota Attorney General Marty Jackley, Washington State Attorney General Bob Ferguson, and Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster authored a bi-partisan letter joined by 49 state Attorneys General addressing concerns with Backpage.com, both identifying the public danger and providing the solution.
On October 3, 2016, Jackley joined 20 other State Attorneys General challenged Backpage.com’s use of language to encourage payment methods that make financial transactions with human traffickers untraceable, strips metadata to impair law enforcement’s ability to locate victims, and deletes “string adds” posted by law enforcement.
As noted in the letter, the Communications Decency Act of 1996 prevents state and local law enforcement agencies from prosecuting advertising companies who have “constructed their business models around income gained from participants in the sex trade.” The letter requests that Congress amend this act so state and local authorities restore their traditional jurisdiction.
In October 2016, the CEO of Backpage.com, Carl Ferrer was arrested in Houston for numerous alleged violations of sex crimes involving minors, and the website’s owners face similar charges in California and Washington