Mayors Of Seven Washington Cities Join McGinn In Backpage Fight

Seven mayors from around Washington have joined Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn in his fight against juvenile prostitution on Backpage.com.

Today, McGinn and the mayors of Pullman, Moses Lake, Shoreline, Bellingham, Tacoma, Spokane and Kennewick sent a letter to Village Voice Media’s CEO, criticizing the lack of “adequate safeguards” on Backpage.com, and urging the company to require in-person photo ID checks for escort ads.

Jim Larkin 

CEO, Village Voice Media 

36 Cooper Square 

New York, NY 10003 

Dear Mr. Larkin: 

We, the undersigned mayors of cities in Washington State, write to urge you to take steps to prevent the use of Backpage.com for underage sex trafficking by requiring in-person verification of any prospective escort advertiser’s ID, as well as proof of identity and age for anyone pictured in an escort ad. There is an urgent need to act quickly, as our cities have continued to find advertisements on your site that reflect underage sex trafficking in recent weeks.  

Backpage.com does not employ adequate safeguards to prevent underage sex trafficking. To place an ad on Backpage.com, all one has to do is check a box saying that the person featured in the ad is over age 18. Other advertising services require a photo ID to be brought to an office, in person, to verify age. We believe this practice is substantially more effective at rooting out underage sex trafficking. In the last 18 months the City of Seattle has not found any evidence of underage sex trafficking on sites requiring photo ID.

Since the beginning of 2010, 22 children advertised on  Backpage.com were recovered by the Seattle Police Department. The Tacoma Police Department reports that they are currently working on 16 cases of juvenile prostitution involving 14 persons who had Backpage.com ads. 

We urge you to take quick action and help us address underage sex trafficking by requiring photo ID. 

Sincerely, 

August 22, 2011 

Glenn Johnson Mayor of Pullman 

Jon Lane Mayor of Moses Lake 

Michael McGinn Mayor of Seattle 

Keith McGlashan Mayor of Shoreline 

Dan Pike Mayor of Bellingham 

Marilyn Strickland Mayor of Tacoma 

Mary Verner Mayor of Spokane 

Steve Young Mayor of Kennewick