Posted May 6, 2009 5:17 pm by with 5 comments

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Remove prostitution or face criminal charges. That’s what South Carolina’s Attorney General, Henry McMaster, threatened in a letter to Craigslist’s CEO, Jim Buckmaster. McMaster believes that Craigslist is “being used to facilitate harmful activities in South Carolina,” pointing out prostitution and people’s safety as his primary concerns.

McMaster even went further to accuse Craigslist of knowingly allowing their site to be used for illegal and unlawful activity, even after warnings from law enforcement officials. Craigslist danced around the issue on their blog, and they plan on speaking to the SC AG directly about it.

Craigslist has until 5pm EST on Friday, May 15 to remove portion of the site which “contain categories for and functions allowing for the solicitation of prostitution and the dissemination and posting of graphic pornographic material.”

More than likely Craigslist will remove the section to avoid investigation and the lawsuit, but do you think the Attorney General is right to demand this?

  • That’s just silly. There are tons of other sites that do the exact same thing. You can’t stop them all. Where there’s a will there’s a way. Look at some of the torrent sites and P2P sharing sites. You close one down two more pop up in its place. Why don’t they spend their time on doing things that are more important for the people of South Carolina?

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  • I don’t think they the right to demand that craigslist take down this section of its Web site. Even though it does promote the possible problems that can arise, craigslist has no control over who posts and is not liable for what happens. This really is being blown out of proportion and craigslist should fight this to the end.

  • LH

    Just because you cannot stop them all is not a reason to not stop some. It’s the same with all criminal activity, whether it be robbery, drug dealing, or prostitution. Indicating that Craigslist has no control of what is posted is a “cop-out” used by most websites relying on user generated content. I don’t see it as removing their obligation to operate within the law, and they do have the ability to control it.

    That prostitution is currently illegal (and whether it should be or not is another matter of debate) indicates that the states have the right, and possibly the duty, to go after a site such as Craigslist. That they have tolerated other areas of ‘adult’ marketing (like the ads in the back of the free weekly newspapers) may call into question their motivation, and highlights this as a ‘political’ move by the AG, capitalizing on a current buzzworthy topic.

    My general feeling is that if they would like to be seen as deterring the activity itself (instead of just gaining the PR buzz), then their time would be more effective publicizing arrests of those using the service. In fact you often see stings done using the more well known escort websites in the news. The police departments know where to monitor and track down these services, it’s really just a question of is it a priority given the resources available. I generally feel that most cities are more concerned about street-prostitution than web-prostitution.

  • Much as I hate the Communcations Decency Act, I think it protects the Craigslist guys from ultimatums like this.

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