Washington State took another step Thursday to protect minors from sexual exploitation through online ads. Overall a dozen anti-human trafficking bills were signed into law by Governor Chris Gregoire.
One of the laws is aimed directly at sex ad publishers, like backpage.com, which has so far refused to verify age in its escort ads.
Rose Gundersen with the non-profit Washington Engage says this is a major victory.
"Some of them are leading edge legislation including for the first time in the nation criminalizing those who advertise minors online if they have not done the verification of age," she says.
Gundersen says to avoid possible criminal charges, classified ad companies will be motivated by the new law to check the ages of escorts in their ads. Locally, backpage.com publishes in the Seattle Weekly.
Another bill signed increases the minimum fine for convicted Johns. Some of the money collected will be used to help victims. Washington was the first state in the nation to criminalize human trafficking.
Copyright 2012 KPLU.