Congress must lead charge to block Backpage.com sex ads

Donna Grethen / Op Art (Donna Grethen)

Donna Grethen / Op Art (Donna Grethen)

BACKPAGE COM is a website where anyone can sell anything — from used furniture to people.
When a Senate committee investigating sex trafficking on Backpage com issued a subpoena to the company’s CEO last year, he did not even bother to show up. On Feb. 10, the Senate’s bipartisan Committee on Homeland Security and Government Affairs voted unanimously to seek civil contempt charges against Backpage com.
That’s not enough. Congress should use its considerable powers to rein inBackpage com. Attorney General Loretta Lynch should do the same.
Backpage com’s “adult services” section raked in at least $28.9 million in the past year, according to media consultant AIM Group. That includes income from ads that sell kids for sex. The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children has stated that 71 percent of the child-sex-trafficking online tips it receives involve Backpage com ads.
It is so easy to peddle children on Backpage com that kids are hocking other kids. In 2013, a suburban Minneapolis high-school cheerleader was charged with advertising a 16-year-old on Backpage com and keeping the girl’s $60 “earnings.” In 2015, two Spokane-area brothers (aged 17 and 15) were charged with selling girls on Backpage com.

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