Feeds

Martial law planned for Craigslist's red-light district

Only 100% legal erotic services allowed

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

Craigslist's free-wheeling red-light district is about to get a lot tamer under strict new measures announced Thursday designed to rein in prostitution and other illegal services.

The website, where 40 million Americans turn each month to find jobs, tennis partners and the occasional dominatrix, has quietly rolled out new restrictions for those posting ads to its erotic services section. For the last few months, they've been required to register with the site first, a process that involves a computerized telephone verification routine. Within the next week or so, they will also have to have a valid credit card and pay a fee for each ad they place.

The new curbs were hashed out between Craigslist principals and the attorneys general of 40 US states and territories. Law enforcement officials have long complained that the website, which is one of the most popular web destinations, is a hotbed for illegal prostitution. Until now, Craigslist has largely relied on user feedback to weed out ads and content deemed inappropriate. The new screening policy represents a new tactic designed to make it hard on people who flout the sites' acceptable usage policy.

"If we catch you posting inappropriate ads, in additional to us suspending your account, we'll also blacklist your phone number," Craigslist chief executive Jim Buckmaster told El Reg. Inappropriate ads are defined as "anything that's not in full compliance with all applicable laws."

Craigslist has also agreed to turn over registered phone numbers to law enforcement officials with a valid search warrant.

Once credit card verification goes into effect, Craigslist expects erotic services ads to decline by 90 per cent. Buckmaster saw a similar drop shortly after the implementation of telephone verification, which requires people registering accounts to enter a valid landline or permanent cell phone number.

A computerized service then calls the number and a robotic voice reads off a series of digits that must be entered into the website registration form. In recent weeks, the number of ads posted to erotic services has picked up as people have figured out ways to circumvent the measure.

Buckmaster said all the money generated from erotic ads will be donated to charities that work to prevent child exploitation and human trafficking.

One method of getting around the system is to use services such as AdBomber, Adsoncraigs.com and 24 Hour Posting Services, which offer software tools that make it easy to blast Craigslist with lots of ads. Some provide additional services, including one that's designed to thwart telephone verification by identifying disposable phone numbers that posters can register.

Craigslist has sued 14 such companies in federal court in San Francisco and sent cease and desist letters to many more.

Law enforcement officials and many Craigslist members largely applauded the changes. We're not sure how big a change to expect. At time of writing, there were nearly 1,400 ads listed in the erotic services section for Hartford, Connecticut, alone, one of 550 cities where the site operates and the home turf of Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal, who spear-headed the changes.

One advertised the services of an "Open minded, fun, friendy [sic] girl" with a "Smokin hot body!!" It asks: "REady for the Most Incredible GFE from a Super Hottie??" ®

Top 5 reasons to deploy VMware with Tegile

More from The Register

next story
Webcam hacker pervs in MASS HOME INVASION
You thought you were all alone? Nope – change your password, says ICO
You really need to do some tech support for Aunty Agnes
Free anti-virus software, expires, stops updating and p0wns the world
Meet OneRNG: a fully-open entropy generator for a paranoid age
Kiwis to seek random investors for crowd-funded randomiser
USB coding anarchy: Consider all sticks licked
Thumb drive design ruled by almighty buck
Attack reveals 81 percent of Tor users but admins call for calm
Cisco Netflow a handy tool for cheapskate attackers
Patch NOW! Microsoft slings emergency bug fix at Windows admins
Vulnerability promotes lusers to domain overlords ... oops
prev story

Whitepapers

Choosing cloud Backup services
Demystify how you can address your data protection needs in your small- to medium-sized business and select the best online backup service to meet your needs.
Getting started with customer-focused identity management
Learn why identity is a fundamental requirement to digital growth, and how without it there is no way to identify and engage customers in a meaningful way.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
How to simplify SSL certificate management
Simple steps to take control of SSL certificates across the enterprise, and recommendations centralizing certificate management throughout their lifecycle.
New hybrid storage solutions
Tackling data challenges through emerging hybrid storage solutions that enable optimum database performance whilst managing costs and increasingly large data stores.