Twenty-one attorneys general — including Iowa’s — are asking backpage.com to remove the “adult services” ads from its website. Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller says it appears backpage is poised to replace craigslist as the largest purveyor of ads that blatantly market prostitution.
“I don’t think we have an illusion that we are going to totally stop this on the internet. The internet is just too broad and wide and the opportunities are too great,” Miller says. “But the question is: are we going to have more of it or less of it? You can’t go after everybody but you go after the bigger ones.”
Earlier this month, craigslist removed its adult services section after receiving a similar request from the attorneys general. Miller says if backpage.com fails to respond to the letter from the attorneys general, then they’ll consider taking further action.
“As in any law enforcement activity, you can’t go after everybody at once, but you try and be strategic and go after one of the largest or one of the largest ones and we did that with craigslist,” Miller says. “Now the concern is that backpage will be the most commonly used site for these kinds of activities.”
Craigslist.org has specific sites for 11 Iowa cities or areas. Backpage.com has sites for 10 Iowa metro areas. Critics of the attorneys general say even if backpage.com shuts down its “adult services” section, the ads will move to other websites.