Critics slam Backpage.com at legislative hearing

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OLYMPIA, Wash. (AP) -- Washington state lawmakers are hearing impassioned pleas to clamp down on classified-advertising companies who don't demand ID before allowing sex-related ads to be posted online.

Speaking at a Senate hearing Friday, Mayor Mike McGinn condemned Backpage.com, an online clearinghouse with a robust adult escort section, for not adequately attempting to verify the age of those listed in the ads.

Critics estimate parent company Village Voice Media makes over $22 million per year from sex ads, a figure the company has not disputed.

Federal law grants broad protections for website owners regarding speech made by third parties. Sen. Jeanne Kohl-Welles, D-Seattle, said she may tweak the bill's language to hinder the court challenges it would likely generate.