Operators of Backpage.com sue over Missouri investigation

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ST. LOUIS (AP) _ The operators of Backpage.com have filed a federal lawsuit seeking to block Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley from investigating the company over adult-oriented ads.

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that the company says that federal law and the First Amendment bar claims against the major international website that advertises escort services.

The suit says that Hawley’s office is seeking to shut down the website with an “enormously broad” civil investigative demand seeking seven years’ worth of documents. Hawley announced that he would be investigating the company with a new human trafficking unit earlier this year. His office issued the investigative demand May 10.

Hawley described the lawsuit as “frivolous” in a statement released Wednesday and said “there is no First Amendment right to engage in human trafficking.”
Information from: St. Louis Post-Dispatch