Washington State

Office of the Attorney General

Attorney General

Bob Ferguson


OLYMPIA - Today we’ve released the letter from online classified site Backpage.com responding to inquiries from most of the nation’s state attorneys general. We received the letter late Friday.

“The letter says that Backpage.com is committed to combating child sex trafficking,” Washington State Attorney General Rob McKenna said. “But given the number of obviously illegal services advertised on Backpage.com, and the number of minors ensnared by traffickers using the site, we’re quite interested in learning how Backpage.com supports that claim,” McKenna said. “Attorneys at my office and around the country are now carefully reviewing the materials provided by Backpage.com, with an eye toward understanding how it’s policed.”

More states and U.S. territories have joined the effort to hold Backpage.com accountable. Since the original announcement, two big states – New York and New Jersey – added their names to the list of those concerned. A total of 51 attorneys general, representing 48 states and three territories, have now signed the letter pressing Backpage.com to provide answers about why their site has become a hub for sex trafficking and what they’re doing about it.

On Aug. 31, McKenna and 45 other attorneys general sent a letter to Backpage.com calling for information about the company’s stated efforts to delete advertisements for sex trafficking, particularly those that could involve minors. The attorneys general cited growing concerns of those in law enforcement that minors and others are increasingly advertised for sex on the site. Backpage.com is owned by Village Voice Media Holdings, LLC, which also owns alternative newspapers around the country.

McKenna added that there’s one definitive way for Backpage.com to settle the matter.

“The adult services section should be shut down,” McKenna said. “Prostitution disproportionately harms kids, runaways and former victims of child sexual abuse. It’s unfortunate that businesses like Backpage.com profit from that kind of exploitation.”


Janelle Guthrie, Director of Communications, (360) 586-0725