House

GOP lawmaker looks to shut down sex trafficking through Backpage.com

After six full pages of findings, the resolution concludes that the House “calls on Village Voice Media Holdings LLC to act as a responsible global citizen and immediately eliminate the ‘adult entertainment’ section of the classified advertising website Backpage.com to terminate the website’s rampant facilitation of online sex trafficking.”

{mosads}The resolution cites studies from the Advanced Interactive Media Group (AIM) that says Backpage.com is the leading U.S. website for prostitution advertising, and that the website took in $26 million in prostitution ads in the 12 months ending February 2012. It also notes that while Backpage.com has said it might run 400 ads each month that could involve minors, the real figure might be “far greater than 400.”

Turner’s resolution notes that Craigslist shut down its adult services pages in 2010, and that various attorneys general, newspapers, clergy members and others have increasingly called on Backpage.com to shut down these ads. In January, the son of Village Voice co-founder Norman Mailer also called for an end to the ads, and in March, Goldman Sachs sold its 16 percent stake in Village Voice under public pressure.

The resolution has no co-sponsors yet, but is likely to collect some, as other members of Congress have sought to increase pressure on the website. In April, Rep. Frank Wolf (R-Va.) called on Attorney General Eric Holder to quickly establish a human trafficking task force, and pressed him specifically to take action against Backpage.com.

Turner replaced Rep. Anthony Weiner (D) in a special election last September, after Weiner tweeted a photo of his crotch to thousands of followers that was intended for just one woman, then lied by blaming it on anonymous hackers.

Tags Eric Holder Frank Wolf

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