And Of Course: Grandstanding Anti-Craigslist Politicians Still Not Satisfied

from the no-surprise-there dept

Well, this one was rather easy to predict. Way back in November, after coming under pressure from various grandstanding state Attorneys General (who seem wholly unfamiliar with Section 230 of the CDA), Craigslist caved in to pressure (despite no legal basis requiring them to do so), and it changed the way its erotic services section worked. The various AGs claimed they were satisfied. But it took all of a few months before some misguided news report showed that people were misusing Craigslist again, and suddenly these AGs sensed an opportunity to get press... so they went on the offensive again, blaming Craigslist for the actions of its users. It makes for a good headline.

Once again, in May, Craigslist caved again and further changed how the site worked and handled "adult" type ads. It also showed that the ads on its site were a lot less graphic than those found on many sites run by traditional newspapers. But, suing the local newspaper doesn't generate headlines like suing Craigslist. And, given that it did such a good job generating press (and got Craigslist to cave when it didn't need to), you had to assume that it wouldn't take long for politicians to start complaining again.

And... here we go. Connecticut's AG Richard Blumenthal, who has milked the bogus Craigslist story for a while, along with Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart, who sued Craigslist earlier this year, have both come out to once again grandstand against Craigslist and insist that the company still isn't doing enough.

Seriously. Can someone send either of these gentlemen a copy of Section 230 of the CDA, along with a nice side dish of common sense. To wit:
  • It is not Craigslist that is the problem. It is the users of the site who are advertising prostitution. They are the ones violating the law. Not Craigslist.
  • Not only that, but Craigslist is very cooperative with law enforcement officials in helping them track down those who break the law via the site. Plenty of law enforcement officials have figured this out and know to use Craigslist as a tool to help them crack down on prostitution.
  • Cracking down on Craigslist doesn't slow down or prevent the illegal activity at all. Those who are involved in prostitution (i.e., the actual law breaking) are still out there, and are quick to find other sources in which to advertise.
  • So cracking down on Craigslist is blaming the messenger -- and making it more difficult to really crack down on prostitution, by driving it further underground.
You would think that such common sense (and the fact that the law makes this clear as well) would have, perhaps, sunk in by now. But, alas, common sense doesn't get you headlines in the paper.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 27th, 2009 @ 7:45am

    Attorney Generals - the new legal bullies

    Well, it stands to figure... We have an incompetent legislative branch... we have an incompetent executive branch... stands to figure we'd have an incompetent judicial branch at some point. Quite honestly, I don't think I gave them enough credit. They lasted this long...

    Where in God's name do they find these people??? And how the hell do they get into office??? Their kneepads must be worn out.

     

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  2.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 27th, 2009 @ 7:49am

    Cl at the end still has some responsibility for their own site. They would not tolerate ads for drug sales or hitmen, so why be tolerant of sex ads?

    The answer is traffic.

     

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  3.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 27th, 2009 @ 7:50am

    The other day my friend was talking about getting a serious beat down, and he referred to it as "Getting Craigs Listed". (Not in the politician sense, but in the "hookers beware" sense)

    Add this to the list right under "Getting a Lewinsky".

     

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  4.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 27th, 2009 @ 7:57am

    The other day my friend was talking about getting a serious beat down, and he referred to it as "Getting Craigs Listed". (Not in the politician sense, but in the "hookers beware" sense)

    Here's another one: You drop your IQ to below 90, vote yourself hundreds of thousands of dollars in salary each year, stomp on the little guys, then grab any headlines you can and make a big deal out of it. We could call that "Getting politicianed".

     

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  5.  
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    mcs, Jul 27th, 2009 @ 8:18am

    Attorney Generals, sigh...

    This story reminds me of the Attorney General for the Duke LaCross team rape case. Just another case of a career politician trying to make a name for himself. They don't care what the guise is as long as there is attention to be had. Although, the AG for the LaCross team was a little more wacko, this practice has been hurting our system across the board (executive, legislative, judicial) for decades now. If only we could create more term limitations and still have experience. Although, with the politicians these days, I don't think experience has ever played a role in decision making.

     

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  6.  
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    imfaral (profile), Jul 27th, 2009 @ 8:25am

    They don't care

    The politicians don't care about the laws, they just want the votes. Most of them, I hope, have been told about how they have no legal basis. They are just choosing to ignore that and proceed on, and Craigslist is helping by doing what they want.

     

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  7.  
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    OneDisciple, Jul 27th, 2009 @ 8:25am

    Re:

    "Cl at the end still has some responsibility for their own site." No one is saying Craig's List does not have a responsibility for their own site. What Mike and others are saying is that the "Law" which was passed by these grandstanding idiots says no one is responsible for other people activity but those other people.

     

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  8.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 27th, 2009 @ 8:29am

    Typo?

    You say someone should send them a copy of Section 230 of the CDA. I don't think this is what you mean.

     

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  9.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 27th, 2009 @ 8:33am

    Correction

    Sorry, I was an idiot. I saw section 230 from two different Acts, and assumed one must be incorrect. It's odd that we care about section 230 of each; is there something special about that number in a legal sense?

     

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  10.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 27th, 2009 @ 8:38am

    Re: Correction

    I don't mean to have a conversation with myself, but I think in the first one you mean section 230 of the CDA, not the DMCA. Pardon my confusion, and disregard that question.

     

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  11.  
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    JackSombra (profile), Jul 27th, 2009 @ 8:41am

    Misunderstanding their objectives

    Actually they are following common sense, problem is you are misunderstanding their objectives.

    Reducing prostitution is not the objective (Politicos are the working girl/guy best customers after all), getting in the headlines looking proactive is

    Thus common sense says: Sue Craiglist

     

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  12.  
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    Dark Helmet (profile), Jul 27th, 2009 @ 9:00am

    Conflict of Interest

    The truly abhorent aspect of this whole debacle is that the supposed fact-checking, altruistic, be all end all newspapers haven't bothered pointing out the lack of legal basis for this bullshit to their readers.

    I'll give you 3 guesses as to why the papers aren't taking a fair look at this, but you'll only need 1...

     

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  13.  
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    Yohann, Jul 27th, 2009 @ 9:02am

    RE: Misunderstanding their objectives

    Actually they are following common sense, problem is you are misunderstanding their objectives.

    Reducing prostitution is not the objective (Politicos are the working girl/guy best customers after all), getting in the headlines looking proactive is

    Thus common sense says: Sue Craiglist


    Not really. It's more a witch hunt. If you look at the Pirate Bay judgement, the operators of the site had no copyrighted information. They merely *pointed* to file locations at other sites, but there was never any actual pirated content on their servers. Hyperlinks are all you need to get arrested.

    It's like standing on a street corner and someone comes up and asks which person out of a group of ten is a drug dealer. You happen to point him out, but you don't have any affiliation with the dealer, you don't know him, or even know for sure if he even has drugs... but you pointed to him. So now you go to jail just for picking him out of a crowd.

    If you look at some of the filesharing sites like Mediafire, there are loads of copyrighted material. But the content isn't removed for weeks or even months because all the company has to say is they police their servers closely and remove any content that's reported. Nobody goes after the company. They go after the uploaders.

    Peoples' lives hang in the balance because politicians and the media make a big stink about it. Plain and simple. Get them to publicize the story, and you'll see action happen. In the end, the only objectives politicians care about are keeping their jobs by getting votes. It's what keeps them alive.

     

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  14.  
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    Lucretious, Jul 27th, 2009 @ 9:03am

    The biggest mistake Craigs made was to change their ad structure to shut these guys up.

     

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  15.  
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    standup4yourRights (profile), Jul 27th, 2009 @ 9:15am

    But CL shares the blame

    But part of the blame is CL's caving in. You make yourself a target when you look easy. I would understand if they were a small private blog and it would cost them their financial future. But they are a business and they make more than enough money to stand against this type of harassment. I feel that larger companies like this have a duty to stand up for their rights, for by doing this it makes it harder for the government to use the same tactics against the individual. People have been blaming the judicial branch for this, but that is just the point. The law says that CL is not responsible for user generated content as part of the safe harbor portion of the CDA. CL has never let the lawsuits go forward for the courts to judge. A good slap down from the courts is just what these AG's need, btw the AG office is not part of Judicatory Branch . CL is not the only one to blame, MySpace caved to Blumenthal in 2007; MySpace turned over a list of 5,000 names, including 100 from Connecticut though there was no legal reason to do so.

     

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  16.  
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    Mike Masnick (profile), Jul 27th, 2009 @ 9:45am

    Re: Re: Correction

    I don't mean to have a conversation with myself, but I think in the first one you mean section 230 of the CDA, not the DMCA. Pardon my confusion, and disregard that question.

    Yup, it was a typo. Meant CDA in both.. oops. Fixed now.

     

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  17.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 27th, 2009 @ 10:25am

    Re:

    Right, Murder and Sex fall in the same catagory. You should run for office.

     

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  18.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 27th, 2009 @ 10:28am

    Re: Re:

    Actually, both of them are crimes (murder and sex for money), so yeah, they are in the same category. Amazing. You should run to school. ;)

     

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  19.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 27th, 2009 @ 10:33am

    Funny

    So what has sheriff Dart managed to accomplish so far? From the article: Sheriff Dart's attorney said the ads are becoming more obvious prostitution solicitations than they were even before "adult services" replaced "erotic services."

    Funny, huh? Maybe Sheriff Dart is actually trying to promote prostitution.

     

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  20.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 27th, 2009 @ 10:51am

    Re: Funny

    No, maybe he is hoping they will become so obvious that they can more easily get warrants to shut them down.

    :)

     

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  21.  
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    Dark Helmet (profile), Jul 27th, 2009 @ 11:13am

    Re: Re: Funny

    "No, maybe he is hoping they will become so obvious that they can more easily get warrants to shut them down."

    If you were from Cook County you'd understand how laughable this is. You have the Chicago Police Dept. AND the Cook County Sherrif's dept. for all the jurisdiction's either outside of the City in Cook County or theoretically outside of CPD jurisdiction (state highways, whatever).

    Unfortunately, since the CPD really don't pay much attention to jurisdiction and outnumber the CCSD about 20:1, this is all rather academic.

     

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  22.  
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    william, Jul 27th, 2009 @ 12:03pm

    craigslist part at fault

    I agree.

    Craigslist caved in too quickly and too easily that now everyone with an agenda of their own can go and make a lot of noise and get some press. Bad first move eh Craigslist? That why when kidnapping happens in some countries, negotiators try to talk themselves out of it instead of filling kidnapper's demands. If you satisfied the demands too easily, guess what, MORE kidnapping will occur, NOT LESS. Criminals learn really fast that they can get whatever they want by kidnapping, and this is basically what's happening to Craigslist right now.

    If Craigslist fought hard when the first incident happened, all these people with NO LEGAL GROUND will lose badly, and damage their own reputation. Heck, if craigslist have fought hard, the first incident probably won't even make it to court since it's obvious they'll loose. That'll make them think twice before bringing these kind of garbage to the public.

     

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  23.  
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    David, Jul 27th, 2009 @ 12:06pm

    OK, so why not address the underlying issue? Why is it ILLEGAL for TWO ADULTS to have SEX?
    Is it the MONEY that is illegal?
    Or is it the SEX that is illegal?

    Why is it any different that meeting someone, buying them a hamburger and then having sex with them? Just read the below from WiKi! $100,000 JUST FOR A LICENSE??? What if a county had 10 of these? That's a bunch of money each year to use on a budget! Never mind the taxes....

    Prostitution is only an ugly thing because nobody governs it. This is one of those things that if governed and regulated (clean health cards for disease screening, taxes paid on services, etc) then why not? How many of YOU had sex within the last week? How many of you paid someone for a service? Why isn't THAT illegal?

    It has survived in Nevada for soooooo long because the government is getting sooooo much money from the brothels!

    Stop fighting what is natural in life...SEX. who knows, maybe it would save marriages, reduce unwanted pregnancies and unwanted babies and stimulate the economy. Right now, I would guess there is millions and millions of dollars being spent on "Craigslist" hookers, why not use some of that cash flow just as if someone was buying a pack of smokes or a case of beer? Tax it at 90%!

    From WiKi:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prostitution_in_Nevada

    Under Nevada state law, any county with a population under 400,000, as of the last decennial census,[13] is allowed to license brothels if it so chooses.[6] Incorporated towns and cities in counties that allow prostitution may regulate the trade further or prohibit it altogether.

    As of 2009, prostitution is illegal under state law in Clark County (which contains Las Vegas) and under county or municipal law in Washoe County (which contains Reno), Carson City (an independent city), Douglas County, and Lincoln County. The other 12 Nevada counties permit licensed brothels in certain specified areas or cities [4], with the exception of Eureka County, which has no law on the books either permitting or prohibiting licensed brothels.[citation needed] All 12 of these rural counties have had at least one legal brothel in operation subsequent to 1971, but many of these brothels were financially unsuccessful or ran afoul of State health regulations. As of 2009, only 8 of these counties have active brothels, while the other 4 (Churchill County, Esmeralda County, Eureka County, and Pershing County) no longer do.

    The precise licensing requirements vary by county. License fees for brothels range from an annual $100,000 in Storey County to an annual $200 in Lander County. Licensed prostitutes must be at least 21 years old, except in Storey County and Lyon County (where the minimum age is 18).

    Nevada law requires that registered brothel prostitutes be tested weekly (by a cervical specimen) for gonorrhea and Chlamydia trachomatis, and monthly for HIV and syphilis[14]; furthermore, condoms are mandatory for all oral sex and sexual intercourse. Brothel owners may be held liable if customers become infected with HIV after a prostitute has tested positive for the virus.[15] Women work a legally mandated minimum of nine days for each work period.[16] Post-op transsexuals and men cannot become prostitutes because of the cervical specimen requirement. [17]

    Nevada has laws against engaging in prostitution outside of licensed brothels, against encouraging others to become prostitutes, and against living off the proceeds of a prostitute.

    For many years, Nevada brothels were restricted from advertising their services in counties where brothel prostitution is illegal; however, this state law was overturned in 2007.[10]

    In June 2009, Nevada Governor Jim Gibbons signed the most stringent punishments nationwide for child prostitution and pandering. The Assembly Bill 380, which allows for fines of $500,000 for those convicted of trafficking prostitutes younger than 14 and $100,000 for trafficking prostitutes ages 14 to 17. Both the House and the Senate unanimously approved the bill, that will go into effect October 1, 2009

     

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  24.  
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    David, Jul 27th, 2009 @ 12:09pm

    Sorry...in my above "rant", I acted as if legalizing prostitution was the ONLY underlying issue. That is not the case. If it wasn't THIS, it would be something else that these egg head politicians would be doing or someone else they would be trying to push around ignorantly.

     

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  25.  
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    James, Jul 27th, 2009 @ 12:29pm

    People always get the internet wrong

    Because its the "Internet" it must be different, right? Wrong. In any town, in any public area, if you were to establish some sort of messaging board that folks could place messages they had written or typed for others to see and someone posted an ad for prostitution do you honestly believe law enforcement would be trying to find the person who owned the message board?

    No. And don't give me any bs that Craig's List is a company and makes money from some of the ads placed, they do not ask people to misuse their system and should not be held accountable for those who do.

    Someone needs to tell these AGs to go f**k themselves w/the stupid horse they rode in on, because my guess is you couldn't even pay someone to do that.

     

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  26.  
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    Mr Bad Example, Jul 27th, 2009 @ 1:29pm

    Politicians & Craig's List

    Wait a minute-you want someone who has never made a mistake in their life (lest it keep vthem from being electable), gets elected by pandering to the lowest common denominator, and keeps the money flowing to their offices by exploiting vague public fears to show common sense?
    Show some of your own-call them what they-out of touch with the real world. Unfortunately, it really won't matter what you call them, because the underpaid flunky whose job it is to monitor on-line comments about the said politician will simply ignore the ones his or her boss doesn't want to see, i.e. those that don't agree with his or her prejudice...

     

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  27.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 27th, 2009 @ 11:44pm

    Re:

    Why is it ILLEGAL for TWO ADULTS to have SEX?

    Better question: Why do you seem to think it is?

    Is it the MONEY that is illegal?
    Or is it the SEX that is illegal?


    Neither one individually. It's sex for money that's illegal (most places). Unless you have a long term contract (otherwise know as a marriage), that is.

     

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  28.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 28th, 2009 @ 6:14am

    Craigslist has caved too far, now they have this filtering shit that nearly makes it impossible to post without hitting on at least one word they are filtering....

     

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  29.  
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    Nick Burns (profile), Jul 28th, 2009 @ 3:34pm

    From the article:

    As for Dart, his detectives are conducting sting operations and making arrests.


    Soooo... if they get CraigsList to stop the ads, what's going to happen to their sting operations?

    The acts will still happen, but Dart won't know about them because they're not on CraigsList.

    Go fig!

    Use the tools you fool!

     

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  30.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 29th, 2009 @ 1:31pm

    Re:

    I don't think that was a mistake at all. It was a good move by Craigslist.

    The money that made from previous Erotic section were donated to Charity 100%.

    The new adult section revenue goes to Craigslist 100%. And they're making at least 13 million just from the adult section..

    not sure if extra 13million is a mistake

     

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  31.  
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    Don McGonigle, Aug 15th, 2009 @ 10:07pm

    The sad thing is, this type of grandstanding and disgusting use of police resources will continue without action. All this talk about how prostitution should be legal and how misguided Tom Dart is, does nothing. Start protesting at the Cook County Sheriff's Office. What are people afraid of? Until there is visible demand for this nonsense to stop, the cycle will repeat itself over and over again.

     

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  32.  
    identicon
    Michael, Mar 26th, 2010 @ 11:57am

    Anti-Craigslist

    Hey - check these guys out. New company. www.nitchmarkets.com. buying/selling within your existing networks. the anti-craigslist. tough to get mugged from people you already know, work with or trust!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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