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KUOW News Sues Washington State Over Anti-Sex Trafficking Law

Sara Lerner

The online classifieds website filed a lawsuit against the state of Washington Monday. It's over a bill passed by the Legislature this year which aims to reduce sex trafficking. KUOW's Sara Lerner has the latest.


Village Voice Media owns the national online classifieds site The company also owns the Seattle Weekly and they run their online classifieds through Backpage. Seattle police say they have caught pimps selling underage girls at Now, the company is suing Washington state. Their attorney, Liz McDougall, says the sex trafficking bill is invalid.

McDougall: "The law is drafted so broadly that there is no feasible way for an Internet service to comply with it."

Attorney General Rob McKenna says he can't give specifics yet about his response to Backpage's claims against the new law, but he says he'll definitely continue to fight them.

McKenna: "They claim to be allies in this fight, but they're not."

Backpage has been vocal about saying they work with police to try to stop the problem.

McKenna: "They're making $20–30 million a year off of ads for prostitution, many of which involve children."

Backpage is also trying to get an injunction to make sure the bill can't take effect when it's supposed to: Thursday.

I'm Sara Lerner, KUOW News.

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