Add Missouri's Chris Koster
to the list of attorney generals calling for backpage.com
to end its online "adult services" advertisements.
Koster fired off a letter to backpage.com
yesterday, just a few days after a Clayton attorney sued the classified-ads website claiming the site knowingly allowed a St. Louis woman to run advertisements pimping out a 14-year-old girl. Latasha Jewell McFarland
pleaded guilty earlier this month in federal
court and is awaiting sentencing.
Backpage.com is controlled by Village Voice Media Holdings, the same company that owns Riverfront Times
. Earlier this week the attorney for VVMH vigorously denied the claims
Yesterday backpage.com responded again. This time to the letter from Koster and 20 other state attorneys general who -- just as they did with craigslist.com
-- are demanding that backpage.com censor its advertisements.
In a blog post yesterday
, backpage.com declined the AGs' request, stating:
Backpage.com is disappointed that the AGs have determined to shift
blame from criminal predators to a legal business operator in an
apparent attempt to capitalize on political opportunity during the
The Internet was born. The federal government enacted laws to
regulate its use and to allocate responsibilities and immunities to web
operators. Backpage.com follows those laws and it declines to censor an
entire section of free speech from its website.
Censorship will not create public safety nor will it rid the world of exploitation.