Canada Continues To Grandstand Over Craigslist Adult Services

from the grandstanding dept

Last month, we noted that some Canadian politicians were jumping on the censor Craigslist bandwagon, though some pointed out in our comments that the politicians in question actually had little influence. However, it looks like those who actually are in power are jumping onto the same grandstanding train. Canada's Justice Minister, Rob Nicholson, has now demanded that Craigslist censor its adult services section -- and he does so with statements that are blatantly intellectually dishonest:
"With respect to newspapers, there are editors, I am sure, who take precautions to make sure theyre not getting into the business of child exploitation or human trafficking and so on" in their classified ads, Mr. Nicholson said after the Conservative caucus meeting on Wednesday. "It seems to me with Craigslist there's no regulation at all as to what goes on."
Except, most of that is inaccurate or misleading. Newspapers work on an entirely different scale and different model than Craigslist, which just acts more as a platform. Second, there is quite a bit of "regulation," it's just that this doesn't sound good, so Nicholson apparently decides to ignore it. Nicholson also claims he's going to introduce new legislation "that would create two new offences under the Criminal Code to close loopholes in Canada's laws against child pornography." If he's complaining about Craigslist and talking about loopholes, that sounds like that new legislation may create secondary liability for platform providers. Hopefully someone can explain to Nicholson the ridiculous unintended consequences of such secondary liability, which would create massive liability for an awful lot of the internet.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    icon
    The eejit (profile), Nov 8th, 2010 @ 7:04am

    GOGO Unintended Consequences!

    I'm beginning to wonder if peop[le so these things as some sort of 'Remember ME!' ploy.

     

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

  2.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 8th, 2010 @ 7:06am

    Isn't the adult section of CL closed?

    Did they reopen it? I thought they closed it.

     

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

  3.  
    identicon
    Freak, Nov 8th, 2010 @ 7:07am

    Thanks for the update

    Emails sent. I know a few people in his riding who'll be glad to send him angry emails. CBC was mostly vague on that point, and it makes it sound as though he's against people communicating with other people/children online in order to facilitate child prostitution.

    Which is all very well and good, but blaming craigslist instead of cragislist users . . .

    Honestly, I'm not surprised to see that come out of Ontario or the conservative party. And if you look at the history, a lot of bad laws & ideas have been unveiled by Mr. Nicholson . . .

     

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

  4.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 8th, 2010 @ 7:10am

    He may be exaggerating a little, but he still touches a sensitive cord that must be addressed. Just because they only "provide a service" doesn't mean anything can go on un-regulated.

    @Freak .. why blame the users when the service provide offers the service in the first place? The users will only take what's for the taking. If you don't offer it in the first place, users will not use it ... And I know you'll just say "they'll grab it somewhere else" but in this case it's a stretch, since almost no one offers the same "services".

     

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

  5.  
    icon
    milrtime83 (profile), Nov 8th, 2010 @ 7:16am

    Grandstanding seemed to work for Andrew Cuomo in the latest election.

     

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

  6.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 8th, 2010 @ 7:25am

    Re:

    I hope someone stab someone in your front door and you get sentenced for homicide facilitation.

    Then you will understand what it secondary liability really means.

     

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

  7.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 8th, 2010 @ 7:30am

    Re:

    Except...it isn't unregulated.

    As for your second paragraph, you're completely wrong.

     

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

  8.  
    identicon
    Freak, Nov 8th, 2010 @ 7:33am

    Re:

    Okay, AC. I'll pretend you're merely ignorant and are in need of informing.

    1)For other websites: just do a google search for "erotic classified ads -craig".
    2)Look in the yellow pages for "escort services"
    3)Think about prostitution being around before the internet.

    If almost no one offers the same services, I wouldn't expect:

    1) To find exactly the same services in other places online
    2) To find exactly the same services have been in existence before the internet
    3) To find that the business was not impossible before the internet, but did, indeed, have other methods of marketing and intermediates such that it could independently form across the globe.




    The services that Nicholson is saying that he is against are some forms of the prostitution business. Craigslist is not in the prostitution business. In any form.

    And even were it a pimp in some abstract form, which it absolutely is not, then it still would be pretty much one of the better pimps around since it doesn't abuse its prostitutes in any way, shape, or form. Which means that even were I to give you the idea that it might possibly be a pimp, still doesn't fulfil the criteria that Nicholson says he is against.

     

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

  9.  
    icon
    Dark Helmet (profile), Nov 8th, 2010 @ 7:46am

    Re: Re:

    Uh, yeah, but, like, the interwebz are, like, ruhlly, ruhlly scary....

     

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

  10.  
    identicon
    Freak, Nov 8th, 2010 @ 7:50am

    Re: Re: Re:

    Yes, exactly!

    To get to the root of the problems, what we actually need to do is ban those scary, scary interwebs! And blow up the tubes so no one else can use them!
    This will surely stop problems that have been around since long before phonelines and datapipes!

    Think of the children!

     

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

  11.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 8th, 2010 @ 7:51am

    I'd like to remind everyone of Danah Boyd's excellent article which painstakingly explains how all of this stupid grandstanding is actually making things much worse for the abused people in question.

    I'm not sure whether the politicians doing this sort of thing are knowingly stepping on those people in order to gain power, or just ignorant of the issues they're writing laws about. Not that either of those is a sign of a good elected official, mind you...

     

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

  12.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 8th, 2010 @ 7:51am

    Re: GOGO Unintended Consequences!

    I'm beginning to wonder if you can write a sentence.

     

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

  13.  
    icon
    Ian (profile), Nov 8th, 2010 @ 7:52am

    New laws

    The new laws being proposed don't have anything to do with Craigslist. They are:
    1) prohibiting the use of telecommunications to plan a sex offence
    2) providing sexually-explicit material to a child to “groom” them for sexual purposes

    Of course, they don't actually have anything to do with child porn, either.

     

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

  14.  
    identicon
    Freak, Nov 8th, 2010 @ 8:01am

    Re: New laws

    Ian, I think none of us disagree with what Nicholson says he is against, or what he says the bills are for.

    Our problem is in the execution. There are four possibilities:

    1)He doesn't understand the issue
    2)He understands the issue, but it doesn't sound glamorous enough, and he'd rather pass legislation that sounds like one thing and is really another so he can be reelected rather than be honest.
    3)He understands the issue, but does not have the same viewpoint as the majority of viewers, and understands this, so he is purposely misleading in order to get his legislation passed while it looks like something else.
    4) He does actually understand the issue and is acting on it honestly.

    Now which of these do you think are likely if he's coming out to say that Cragslist should censor its erotic section?

     

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

  15.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 8th, 2010 @ 8:11am

    Re: New laws

    1) prohibiting the use of telecommunications to plan a sex offence
    2) providing sexually-explicit material to a child to “groom” them for sexual purposes
    Hooo kayyyy.. so never mind "around before the internet" of another comment, were now thinking we can prevent a "profession" that's been around since.... well.. BC with a bit more law do we? We think that banning anything "naughty" will prevent children ever seeing anything bad do we?

    Oh and if Mike's right and thi is aimed at secondary liability laws, does that mean phone companies can be sued for providing a method of communication for arranging a paid-for sexual assignation? I'm pretty sure that's one way it was done before the internet and I'd guess it still happens. It's not a great stretch from 1 service providor to another is it?

    I always find it ironic when politicians go on these "moral crusades" - I know a number of people who plausibly claim to... shall we say... "know" in the biblical a number of politicians who would say that this particular group is at least as, if not more, likely to make use of these services....

     

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

  16.  
    icon
    Free Capitalist (profile), Nov 8th, 2010 @ 8:15am

    Re:

    why blame the users when the service provide offers the service in the first place? The users will only take what's for the taking. If you don't offer it in the first place, users will not use it

    By that logic: why take the time tracking down individuals responsible for crime when you can blame God for creating the Earth on which the crime was committed? No Earth, no crime. Budget problems solved world-wide.

     

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

  17.  
    identicon
    TheStupidOne, Nov 8th, 2010 @ 8:16am

    Re: Isn't the adult section of CL closed?

    Closed in USA only

     

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

  18.  
    icon
    btrussell (profile), Nov 8th, 2010 @ 8:37am

    All politicians want craigslist gone as it is too easy for them to be caught on it.

     

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

  19.  
    icon
    Berenerd (profile), Nov 8th, 2010 @ 8:39am

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Think of the adults not getting service....


    ok...maybe not...

     

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

  20.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 8th, 2010 @ 9:33am

    Re: Re:

    Newspapers, phonebook, etc... have regulations and will not put up random crap like craigslist used to it.

     

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

  21.  
    identicon
    Ryan Diederich, Nov 8th, 2010 @ 9:35am

    I am suing...

    I am suing the city of my local town, because I picked up a prostitute on the corner of 1st and Main St, and prostitution is illegal.

    Do these people think at all. Even if you turn it around on them like that, they still dont get it. Theyll just say that its..."Different"

     

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

  22.  
    identicon
    BruceLD, Nov 8th, 2010 @ 9:40am

    Subject

    I am Canadian.

    If my Canadian politicians force Craigslist to censor highly illegal activities, the politicians would be doing a great disservice to those that are affected by illegal activities. In addition, the police would have to look for their leads elsewhere because illegal activities would be driven underground and out of sight making it very difficult to investigate. There is also the public awareness and alerting factor. Ordinary citizens are probably more likely to report illegal activities to the police.

    I am completely against pedophiles and other similar distasteful activities. I am against driving it underground where such activities can go on freely to avoid detection. Let the exploiters wave it openly and publicly, and let law enforcement take out the trash. If the public can not see such activity, they obviously will not be able to report it to the police.

     

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

  23.  
    icon
    Trails (profile), Nov 8th, 2010 @ 9:45am

    Mike, Please...

    It's not Canada, just an idiot canadian politician. Please man, don't paint me with the same brush.

     

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

  24.  
    identicon
    Freak, Nov 8th, 2010 @ 9:47am

    Re: Re: Re:

    And that's why we see ads for "massage parlours". It doesn't even hinder them to have such regulations, (Or for that matter, 'escort services' in the yellow pages, as previously mentioned).

    It does, however, hinder law enforcement agents who can't bust into a 'massage parlour' without proof prior to busting in.

    As my local RCMP will tell you if you ask, they use craigslist to find people who advertise illegal things on craigslist, (which goes beyond just the erotic section). Those things would still happen in the absence of craigslist, (The crime rate hasn't magically jumped since the internet's existence), but it makes it easier for cops to find the people.

    So explain to me, how is censorship the answer here? It hurts law enforcement and does not effect the offenders.

     

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

  25.  
    identicon
    Freak, Nov 8th, 2010 @ 10:04am

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    And that's if I give you that craigslist is less regulated than newspapers and magazines.

    Craigslist adult services is neither anonymous nor unregulated. Credit cards and phone numbers are required to place ads and they cooperate with authorities.

    What newspapers and magazines advertise is really down to their own regulation; Which can be surprisingly lax. They don't have to cooperate with law enforcement agents until some sort of court action is taken, (IANAL), and in many cases, even when regulated, it can still be done anonymously.
    As a result, I can open the classifieds of one of the local
    tabloids, and be assured of finding at least one ad which may or may not be sexual advertising.

     

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

  26.  
    icon
    Jeremy7600 (profile), Nov 8th, 2010 @ 10:16am

    Re:

    Paladino REALLY didn't help himself along the way.

     

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

  27.  
    icon
    The Mad Hatter (profile), Nov 8th, 2010 @ 10:55am

    I'm thinking of renewing my Conservative Party Membership

    It's becoming obvious that they need at least one person in the party who understands technology.

     

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

  28.  
    icon
    Angry Puppy (profile), Nov 8th, 2010 @ 12:29pm

    It's Just Cheap Posturing

    "I'm doing it for the children..."

    This is the standard career bull of the disingenuous and ineffectual politico. No one can criticize them without being rebuked as a pedophile sympathizer and nothing really happens except tax dollars are spent, time is wasted, and real (but controversial) issues are ignored all while appearing to act in the interest of the taxpayer. It's the politician's perfect way of faking activity and getting funding and more staff (bigger staff numbers and budget of your department make you more important in Ottawa).

    Dr. Danah Boyd's article is, in my opinion, correct in that censoring CL will result in placing power into the hands of the pimps and exploiters by removing easy and safer communications between sex trade workers and clients. Above ground, public advertising also, obviously, allows the police to monitor and track activities.

    Prostitution in Canada is legal. There is even a tax code category for it (escorts 812990, http://www.cra-arc.gc.ca/tx/bsnss/tpcs/slprtnr/rprtng/ndstry/ntrtnmnt-eng.html). Everything surrounding it is illegal including "communication for the purpose of" although ads for escorts and massage parlors appear in most major papers and phone directories.

    Justice Minister Nicholson will argue he is only wanting to stop underage and human trafficking activities that use CL. Well, the latest human sex trafficking busts in Vancouver seemed to have been done using CL to track the suspects (http://www.stalbertgazette.com/article/GB/20101013/CP02/310139707/-1/SAG0806/police-say-bc-man-used -sex-slaves-in-brothels-he-advertised-on&template=cpArt).

    It's not all bad in Canada. A detective in BC made a statement supporting CL: http://www.bclocalnews.com/news/106898638.html
    and BC Solicitor General Mike de Jong seems to be negotiating with Craigslist CEO Jim Buckmaster in making it easier to track criminals using CL: http://communities.canada.com/vancouversun/blogs/capitaldiary/archive/2010/10/14/b-c-discusses-human -trafficking-with-craigslist-ceo.aspx and Buckmaster is obviously interested in cooperation: http://www.vancouversun.com/pdf/1148216.pdf

    Justice Minister Rob Nicholson is simply trying to make the Harper government appear to be acting in best interests while doing nothing (or worse than nothing) at all.

     

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

  29.  
    icon
    TtfnJohn (profile), Nov 8th, 2010 @ 12:30pm

    Re:

    He's exaggerating a LOT. But it does whip up a storm in a teacup around people who don't understand the Internet or Craigslist.

    As for your second paragraph have a glance at personals, business personals, and various other classifications in most newspapers. And Nicolson is wrong when he indicates that editors are looking the ads, they do no such thing. Ad taking is often off shored, and within a limited number of no-nos anything goes. As to the services themselves, using the term loosely, what makes you think no one will offer an alternative to craigslist? They're out there, you know.

    The whole thing seems to be an appeal to the more true-blue, Toronto-the-good, pro censorship crowd in southern Ontario than anything else where it sells well.

    Outside of the Toronto centric CBC, I can't remember just where that pronouncement go a millisecond of traction here in BC.

    It's been noted elsewhere that this will probably do more harm that good to investigations into child exploitation as it drives it further underground than it already is.

    Then again, I'm probably responding to someone from the part of the world that banned "The Tin Drum".

     

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

  30.  
    icon
    TtfnJohn (profile), Nov 8th, 2010 @ 12:40pm

    Re: New laws

    "1) prohibiting the use of telecommunications to plan a sex offence
    2) providing sexually-explicit material to a child to “groom” them for sexual purposes"

    It strikes me this is still grandstanding as the Criminal Code already prohibits this sort of activity without being quite as specific. Point (1) in particular.

    I'm still unsure as to how a prosecution can actually prove point (2) in terms of gathering evidence but how that applies to craigslist or any other adult oriented advertising is beyond me.

    Of course, just about any ad urging adults to visit Thailand ought to qualify given that country's record in these things.

     

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

  31.  
    icon
    TtfnJohn (profile), Nov 8th, 2010 @ 12:43pm

    Re: I am suing...

    I hate to tell you this that prostitution, in and of itself, has never been illegal in Canada.

    Of course, I don't think Nicolson realizes that either.

     

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

  32.  
    icon
    TtfnJohn (profile), Nov 8th, 2010 @ 12:44pm

    Re: I'm thinking of renewing my Conservative Party Membership

    What makes you think there's a Federal Liberal or New Democrat who understand technology? :)

     

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

  33.  
    icon
    TtfnJohn (profile), Nov 8th, 2010 @ 12:58pm

    Re: It's Just Cheap Posturing

    To get a bit more serious, I suspect this is to appeal to the Tory "base" and to the blue-law crowd of all parties in the Metro Toronto area who are, even in this day and age, quite powerful.

    As I noted it got the traction out here in BC of just another bemused look across the Rockies and wondering if the water is safe to drink in Ontario.

    BC's response has been far more mature and nuanced that anything Nicolson has been saying.

     

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

  34.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 8th, 2010 @ 1:23pm

    Re: in this case it's a stretch, since almost no one offers the same "services"

    forums, further underground, newspapers, classified, other areas of craigslist, the street

     

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

  35.  
    icon
    The Mad Hatter (profile), Nov 8th, 2010 @ 1:59pm

    What makes you think there's a Federal Liberal or New Democrat who understand technology? :)

    I know there isn't. I am however a Conservative, and if I can help the party understand technology, and possibly gain an electoral advantage, why shouldn't I?

     

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

  36.  
    icon
    Angry Puppy (profile), Nov 8th, 2010 @ 3:04pm

    Re: Re: It's Just Cheap Posturing

    You mentioned the Ontario water. Perhaps Nicolson thinks CraigsList is depleting his "precious bodily fluids". I can imagine the conversion between him and PM Harper like this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N1KvgtEnABY

     

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

  37.  
    icon
    Tom Landry (profile), Nov 8th, 2010 @ 5:25pm

    Utter bullshit. I'm a Craigs regular and they do a PHENOMENAL job of policing their ads given the number of users they have posting content.

    I honestly wish political grandstanding would be considered a criminal dereliction of duty for a public servant. it's sickening.

     

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

  38.  
    icon
    Overtkill (profile), Nov 9th, 2010 @ 9:59am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    No more happy ending.... :(

     

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

  39.  
    icon
    Overtkill (profile), Nov 9th, 2010 @ 10:02am

    Re: Re:

    They seriously should have "None of the above" in every election as a standard option.

     

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

  40.  
    icon
    nasch (profile), Nov 9th, 2010 @ 12:44pm

    Re: Mike, Please...

    Canada Complains About Brush It's Painted With

     

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

  41.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 9th, 2010 @ 3:47pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    Yes, let's just pretend we live in the past. That will make everything better.

     

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

  42.  
    identicon
    Jenna Purr, Nov 11th, 2010 @ 8:12am

    I'm an independent escort in the U.S.

    I have advertised in my local newspapers both conservative and progressive, sleezy skin mags, high end skin mags, the yellow pages, yellow book, craigslist, backpage, eros, escorts.com, theeroticreview.com.

    out of all those advertisers, only 2 websites know my real name and age.

    the print advertisers never even asked me if i was 18yrs old, they just took the payment and the ad copy. i never had to show id and i didn't even have to be the person who was in the ad...

    call the business phone directory in your area and see for yourself how easy it is. if you're a guy, call them and tell them that you want to buy a listing in their escort section for jenna purr. 602.487.7491. and go ahead through the payment process and let me know if you have any problems.

    LOL

    the newspapers here used to charge escorts $75-$150 week to advertise when all the other business service sections only had to pay $11-$22 to place an ad.... so when craigslist gave us free ads, we stopped paying to advertise in the newspapers.

    so the newspapers got really upset that craigslist WASN'T exploiting us because that was a damn good racket they had.

    now the newspapers here, and i'm sure your's will do the same, are saying they wont take anymore escort ads because they dont want to be a part of trafficking.

    BULLSHIT.

    when they make that announcement, take a look at their escort ad section a week prior to the announcement and then take a look at their escort section 8 years ago and you will see for yourself, in black in white, the exploitation they are so concerned about.

    newspapers own politicians and politicians own newspapers but craigslist was neither and they were the only site that DIDN'T want to exploit us and in fact, they only started charging $5 for the ads because of political pressure forcing them to... the politicians said they had to charge a fee because then they could stop children from placing ads since a credit card account would be necessary..... so craigslist said ok but the money went to charity the first year....

    Then the 2nd year, the charities starting sending it back and this literally FORCED craigslist to profit completely against their will.

    this is a really amazing company. . amazing like no other company i've ever known before.... don't let them destroy the 1 goddamn company in existence that cares more about people than money.

     

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


Add Your Comment

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here
Get Techdirt’s Daily Email
Save me a cookie
  • Note: A CRLF will be replaced by a break tag (<br>), all other allowable HTML will remain intact
  • Allowed HTML Tags: <b> <i> <a> <em> <br> <strong> <blockquote> <hr> <tt>
Follow Techdirt
A word from our sponsors...
Essential Reading
Techdirt Reading List
Techdirt Insider Chat
A word from our sponsors...
Recent Stories
A word from our sponsors...

Close

Email This