Kirk Hails Senate Passage of Bipartisan Resolution Condemning Child Sex Trafficking on Backpage.com
Resolution calls on Village Voice Media Group to eliminate Adult Entertainment Section of Backpage website
WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Senate yesterday passed a resolution sponsored by U.S. Senators Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) and Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) calling on Village Voice Media, the owners of Backpage.com, to end its facilitation of human trafficking and prostitution by eliminating the “adult entertainment” section of its website. Backpage remains the leading U.S. website for prostitution advertising.
“The Senate’s passage of this resolution presents a strong, united front in the fight against online child sex trafficking,” Senator Kirk said. “Congress has made it clear that the American public strongly condemns the facilitation and perpetuation of human trafficking by website operators. We will no longer accept Village Voice Media’s continued complacency and its executives who prioritize the rights of pimps, not kids. We will not rest until children are no longer victimized by this or similar websites. I want to especially thank Senators Blumenthal, Rubio and Cornyn for their great partnership in helping to lead this effort.”
A copy of the resolution can be found here.
Timeline of actions and events
51 Attorneys General write to Backpage.com calling on it to follow the lead of Craigslist.com and shut down the “adult entertainment” section of its website.
19 U.S. Senators write to Jim Larkin, CEO of Village Voice Media Holdings to take down “adult entertainment” ads from Backpage. Goldman Sachs sells its management stake of Village Voice Media, stating that it was “uncomfortable with the direction of the company.”
Senators Kirk, Blumenthal, Rubio and Cornyn write a letter to 40 organizations and companies that advertised in Village Voice publications asking them to use their economic influence to pressure Village Voice Media to take down Backpage’s “adult entertainment” section. Several companies respond to the letter, and decide to pull advertising and ensure no new advertising with Village Voice would occur.
April 25, 2012:
Senators Kirk and Blumenthal introduce Senate Resolution 439, which calls on Village Voice Media to eliminate the “adult entertainment” section of Backpage.
Senator Kirk releases a video titled “Child Sex Trafficking: The role of backpage.com” to outline the details of how Backpage enables sex trafficking in the United States.
Senators Kirk, Blumenthal and four other U.S. Senators wrote to Scott Tobias, CEO of the newly formed Voice Media Group, Inc., urging him to take action on Backpage.com. Tobias had been an executive at Village Voice Media Holdings, LLC before spinning off a number of Village Voice Media assets, including the Village Voice weekly publications, in an apparent effort to circumvent the public relations nightmare that Backpage caused the alternative weeklies. Citing Tobias' statements regarding the spinoff that "Backpage has been a distraction…to the core (editorial) properties," the lawmakers expressed their disappointment in the lack of action taken by Tobias and urged him use his relationship and remaining influence with Village Voice Media Holdings to end the child sex trafficking facilitated by backpage. The full text of the letter can be found here.
December 20, 2012:
Senate passes S.Res 439 by a voice vote.