By GENE JOHNSON
SEATTLE (AP) - The website Backpage.com is asking a federal judge to block a new Washington state law that would require classified advertising companies to verify the ages of people in sex-related advertisements.
Gov. Chris Gregoire signed the law to cut down on child sex trafficking. It allows for the criminal prosecution of classified advertising company representatives who publish or cause publication of sex-related ads peddling children.
U.S. District Judge Ricardo S. Martinez is scheduled to hear arguments Friday. He has already temporarily blocked the law pending the outcome of the lawsuit.
Backpage operates an online clearinghouse for escorts. It says the law could apply to dating sites, blogs and social networking sites. The company says the law is trumped by the federal Communications Decency Act and would violate free speech rights.
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