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Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan
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September 21, 2010

ATTORNEY GENERAL MADIGAN URGES BACKPAGE.COM TO REMOVE ADULT SERVICES SECTION

Chicago — Attorney General Lisa Madigan today sent a letter to backpage.com, an Internet company, urging it to immediately eliminate the adult services advertisements from its site to prevent human trafficking and the sexual exploitation of children and women. Madigan and 20 other state attorneys general requested the action after backpage.com failed to prevent ads for prostitution and other illegal activity from appearing on its site.

Madigan and other state attorneys general opened an investigation into backpage in 2009. The company responded with attempts to address the concerns, including implementing fees to place ads in the adult services section. Those efforts failed, however, with prostitution ads simply being posted on free sections of the site.

“Sex trafficking of children and women is a sickeningly far-too-real problem in Illinois and across the country,” said Attorney General Madigan. “Web sites are welcome to make money selling cars and merchandise, but we will not tolerate the sale of human beings and the exploitation of children for sex.”

These efforts are part of the Attorney General’s ongoing push to protect the children and women who fall victim to human trafficking and sexual exploitation. Craigslist and backpage, two of the country’s largest online classified ad sites, were projected to generate over $62 million from adult services ads in 2010, according to a study by the Advanced Interactive Media Group. Last month Madigan and other state attorneys general successfully lead the effort against craigslist to remove its adult services section.

Madigan also works with local and national law enforcement organizations to address Internet exploitation issues. Madigan’s office, with a grant from the Department of Justice, runs the Illinois Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) task force, which investigates child exploitation crimes and trains law enforcement. Since 2006, Madigan’s office has been involved in over 300 arrests of sexual predators and provided Internet safety training and education to more than 128,000 parents, teachers and students and more than 10,000 law enforcement professionals.

Madigan joined attorneys general from Arkansas, Connecticut, Delaware, Idaho, Iowa, Kansas, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, Ohio, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas and Virginia in sending the letter to backpage.com today.

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