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State, tech companies forge alliances to combat sex trafficking

California Watch
 — May 21 2012 - 2:59pm

Last year, California Attorney General Kamala Harris joined attorneys general across the country in declaring war against, a free classified website run by Village Voice Media. The officials threatened legal action if the site didn’t stop running ads for adult services, some of which have been linked to underage sex trafficking.

But while Harris took a confrontational tone with Backpage – which has since balked at shutting down its adult pages – a more cooperative dynamic has emerged this year between the attorney general and online companies.

Harris recently announced an agreement with mobile and tech companies that requires their apps to better display their privacy policies. While Harris said she will not rule out legal action against sites such as Backpage, her office has begun to build more alliances with online firms. And as companies such as Facebook have matured, they have become more willing to cooperate with government leaders and law enforcement. 

Read the complete story at California Watch. California Watch, the state’s largest investigative reporting team, is part of the independent, nonprofit Center for Investigative Reporting. For more, visit

Read coverage of human trafficking in the San Francisco Public Press Spring 2012 print edition, on sale at retail outlets around San Francisco and online at