Backpage.com respectfully declines the recent demand by a group of 21 state attorneys general that it close its adult classifieds website.
Backpage.com is a legal business and operates its website in accordance with all applicable laws. In response to concerns raised by the AGs in recent months, Backpage.com has increased its efforts to provide clear, legal rules to users who post classified ads and to ban users who violate those rules. While no system is perfect, even the AGs acknowledge Backpage.com's good-faith cooperation with law enforcement.
In the last two years, Backpage.com users have posted 58 million ads and only 6 million in the adult services section. Federal and state authorities have called on Backpage.com to testify in just five cases involving alleged abuse of underage persons. Backpage.com continues to respond to valid subpoenas from law enforcement officials whose job it is to investigate, apprehend and prosecute criminals who wrongfully post illegal ads and victimize others.
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 election season.
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.