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Attorney General Chris Koster Goes After Backpage.com

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AG seeks sub HTTP for BDSM.
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 made in the lawsuit and pointed out that backpage.com willingly provided information leading to McFarland's arrest after discovering she had violated the site's terms of use.

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 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.

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