Attorneys General Upset That Craigslist Is Profiting From Procedure He Forced Craigslist To Put In Place

from the banging-your-head-on-the-virtual-wall dept

The grandstanding of some Attorneys General never ceases — even when they created the “problem” they’re now grandstanding against. Case in point: Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal and his crusade against Craigslist. Two years ago, Blumenthal blamed Craigslist for prostitution ads that appear on the site. Blumenthal, as the state Attorney General should know about the law, right? He should know that he has no legal basis for this complaint, and that under Section 230 of the CDA, Craigslist is not liable for the actions of its users. In fact, legal attempts to pin the blame for such ads on Craigslist have been quickly dismissed on just those grounds. Even more importantly, from a common sense standpoint, Blumenthal should realize that when police work with Craigslist in partnership, they’re able to use it as an effective tool to track down lawbreakers who use the site.

But that doesn’t get headlines.

Instead, Blumenthal, based on no legal basis whatsoever, used his soapbox (along with some other attorneys general) to get Craigslist to changing its policies on “adult” advertisements. Whereas, previously, those ads had been free, Craigslist now required that anyone putting up such ads pay for them with a valid credit card, eliminating many of the ads and making it much, much easier to track down whoever placed them in the first place. You would think that would make the AGs happy. Six months later, however, the AGs were still upset, and got Craigslist to change again, boosting the fee on such ads from $5 to $10 and reviewing more of the ads.

Almost all of these moves came in response to public posturing and baseless legal threats from Blumenthal. So what’s he doing now?

He’s apparently doing more public posturing and issuing more baseless legal threats, because Craigslist stands to make an awful lot of money from these ads — the very same ads that Craigslist only started charging for because of Blumenthal’s pressure:

“I believe Craigslist acted irresponsibly when it unilaterally decided to keep the profits from these posts,” Mr. Blumenthal wrote in the letter…

Yes, and I believe Blumenthal acted irresponsibly when he put bogus grandstanding pressure on Craigslist to put in place the tollbooth in the first place. At what point does he recognize that Craigslist isn’t the target here. It’s the people using Cragslist to break the law — and that Craigslist is more than willing to help law enforcement track down those law breakers?

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Comments on “Attorneys General Upset That Craigslist Is Profiting From Procedure He Forced Craigslist To Put In Place”

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Josef says:

Re: Given it to Blumenthal?

I’m not sure I understand how it’s irresponsible for a company to keep the profits from a fee that it was politically pressured into charging its clients.

He uses the term unilaterally as if Craigslist needed to confer with the AG before deciding to keep profits. If that quote was not taken out of context then it’s basically the AG asking for a donation of cash. There has to be more.

Josef says:

Re: Re: Given it to Blumenthal?

ok Blumenthal is a card carrying MORON. I did some digging and I get it now. He’s upset that they Craiglist stopped donating the money to charity. If you look at the main two charities they were donating to, you find that they are founded by, Craigslist.

So Craigslist was being a normal corporation and taking money from one of its pockets and moving to another pocket and calling it charity.

If I donate money to my own charity, don’t I get to claim it as an expense to reduce my taxable income? And then I get to accept it as a tax free donation in my other hand. Not a bad deal.

Mike Masnick (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Given it to Blumenthal?

Citation? Not that I don’t believe you, but if that’s correct it completely changes my opinion on this matter….

It’s sort of true. When they made the original announcement (the $5 charge) in late 2008, they promised that money would go to charities related to these issues. A few months later, when the various AGs who had agreed to the original deal started complaining that it wasn’t enough, Craigslist upped the fee to $10, promised to hire people to monitor posts and said that it would no longer *say* how all the money would be used. That was mainly because it realized it needed to use some of that money to hire people to monitor posts — and, separately, that as a private company, it had no need to tell anyone what it did with its money. They never said they wouldn’t contribute to such groups any more. The decision was based on the need to use that money to fund the new jobs monitoring those feeds.

Jason Billis says:

Re: Given it to Blumenthal?

I’m angry at Craigslist for cooperating with these scummy politicians/cops in the first place. If giving away sex for free is legal why should paying for it be legal? freedom should reign no matter how offensive it is to people. Whether its prostitution or random harassing comments on DirtyPhoneBook or anything of the sort, the busybodies of the world SHOULD NOT be involved with CONTROLLING the lives of others.

Freedom says:

American Dream...

It is good to know that the American Dream is still alive. Especially for those that would qualify to participate in the Special Olympics for common sense and basic logic.

Maybe one day we can finally grow up and realize that sex isn’t dirty in America.

I always love when politicians fight against adult services. Maybe they just see too much of themselves???


Danny (user link) says:

Oh not Mike its not that using Craigslist as a tool to stop lawbreakers doesn’t make headlines. The problem is, the eyes of those AGs, is that if they use things like Craigslist as an effective tool and make a significant impact on crime that runs the risk of him not having something to complain about meaning he wouldn’t get as many headlines.

Its like the “teach a man to fish….” proverb in reverse. If there is a significant impact against crime then that means they won’t have their soapbox to stand on to complain thus resulting in not as many headlines. Sadly I think its true if Craigslist were used effectively AGs would have to find some other “cause” to get attetion with. They don’t care about punishing crooks they care about getting attention which translates into money, votes, power, status, etc…

Joe for The Children says:

It's no surprise,

Moral panics and the demogoguery they inspire is the primary weapon in the politician’s arsenal.

“This thing, though thanks to cooperation from everyone involved, has never been easier to investigate, is a problem! Won’t someone think of the children, who thanks to exposure to technology since birth, may actually make them more savvy to the possible dangers of this issue than we are!”

Big Mook (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Well-connected people, however useless they may be, tend to get promoted up rather than let go. The further up in management and/or position, the less real damage they can inflict on real-life, day-to-day operations and activities.

Granted, this is usually more prevalent within large corporations, but lawyers and governments can be subject to this phenomenon, too. Otherwise, how can you possibly explain Joe Biden?

jschmidt says:

Re: elected idiots

We here in CT have all elected idiots. . The whole state loves Democrats. We have full repsentation in DC with Democrats. Our legislature is controlled by Dems. Our budget is in the red big time. Only 32% of the gas tax is used for transportation. We get only 69% of every dollar back that we send to DC. We have the 2nd highest electric rates. Bluementhal has sued everyone and it is no wonder we keep losing businesses and jobs.

Anonymous Coward says:

Spitzer part deux

It seems to me that the people who yell the loudest about these types of things are typically doing it themselves. Look at Elliot Spitzer – is Blumenthal cut from the same cloth? Is he blasting Craiglist to deflect attention from his own activities? I think someone in the FBI should be investigating him. What a knob.

Anonymous Coward says:

“I believe Craigslist acted irresponsibly when it unilaterally decided to keep the profits from these posts,” Mr. Blumenthal wrote in the letter…

Yeah what the hell where they thinking, turning that into a revenue stream when they clearly should have ear marked that money for the reelection campaign, like Mr. Blu’s. Here he went out of his way to help them create a revenue stream and they didn’t pony up his cut.

Mike Masnick (profile) says:

Re: Party Affiliation

Hunh – funny that Richard Blumenthal’s party affiliation (D) is absent from this post. Doesn’t techdirt have a style guide?

Yes. We don’t mention party affiliation either way, unless it’s central to the story (such as a PARTY doing something). If it’s just an individual politician, we don’t mention their affiliation at all.

Otherwise we get idiots arguing over partisan politics rather than the issue.

If you want a perfect example of a very similar story involving a Republican Attorney General upset at Craigslist, look here:

Nearly identical story, accept the AG is a Republican. Notice what’s not there? Party affiliation. We don’t mention it if it’s not part of the story to keep people from making everything partisan.

Sanjay maharaj (user link) says:

Interesting to note that after Craigslist complied with his request, he still wnats mor eand still blames Craiglist. They should see this as an opportuntiy and work with Craiglsit to nail down these guys instead they throw a wrench and go against what could be an effectiv etool for them to fight this.That’s what yo uget when people don’t think strategically.

Bob F says:

Who is worth electing

I understand your frustration jschmidt but it’s not like the Republicans are any better.

When was the last time you truly respected and admired a person in government from CT (state or federal)?

No one seems to believe in individual liberty anymore. If they do they sure as hell aren’t running for office in either party.

Blumenthal deserves a worthy competitor, a Republican who will rake him over the coals for his BS. Hopefully such a candidate will step forward to run against him. I have little confidence in his current competitors.

Enuska (user link) says:

This is a shitty “article”, and I use that word very loosely.

When Craigslist originally started charging for the ads, they donated that money to charity.

The “article” pulls Blumenthal’s quote out of context.

What he is referring to is not Craigslist making money, but when Craigslist decided to stop giving the money from those ads to charity.

The point stands, but this is a poorly written piece that shows why internet sites and their “articles” are rarely regarded as journalism.

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