US prosecutor orders Craigslist 'erotic listings' shutdown
Plug prostitution postings or be probed
A US prosecutor has told Craigslist that if it doesn't take down all "erotic listings" within 10 days, it will face a criminal investigation and possible charges.
South Carolina Attorney General Henry McMaster said today he's sent an open letter to Craigslist CEO Jim Buckmaster demanding the site immediately shutter all listings for his state that he sees as encouraging prostitution. If the classifieds aren't gone by 5:00 PM on Friday, Craiglist management may be probed and prosecuted, McMaster postured.
"Many of the classified and communication services on the Craigslist site provide the public with a valuable service," he wrote to Buckmaster. "However, it appears that the management of Craigslist has knowingly allowed the site to be used for illegal and unlawful activity after warnings from law enforcement officials and after an agreement with 40 state attorneys general."
Craigslist entered a pact late last year with dozens of states' top prosecutors to "help combat unlawful activity and improve public safety on the web site." Law officials claim the website is a hotbed for illegal prostitution and must implement new screening policies such as telephone and credit card verification before users are allowed to post an "erotic services" listing.
Craigslist made the changes, and in March, boasted a "spectacular" 95 per cent reduction in the volume of erotic ads. But McMaster said he doesn't believe Craigslist has done enough to curb online ads-of-negotiable-virtue or "graphic pornographic material" accessible by impressionable tots.
Bruckmaster responded to the warnings in the Craigslist blog today, saying the site's counsel sees "no legal basis whatsoever for filing a lawsuit against craigslist or its principals."
Given the progress that has been made dealing with these tremendously complex issues in a very short time, and the ongoing collaboration between craigslist and law enforcement to make further improvements, we urge Attorney General McMaster to look closely at the facts before proceeding with his threat.
McMaster's legal ire would join Chicago's sheriff, Thomas Dart, who filed a lawsuit against the site in March claiming prostitution listings are straining his department's ability to enforce the law.
A copy of McMaster's letter to Craigslist is available here as a PDF. ®
The second sentence clears up what ever confusion the first sentence left:
"South Carolina Attorney General Henry McMaster said..."
That means that McMaster is a "US prosecutor" in the sense that he is a prosecutor who lives in the US, not that he represents the US government (he represents the state of South Carolina). I think your reasoning about why this ought to be handled at the Federal level has merit, but I think is beside the point for McMaster who seems to be in search of some cheap publicity to bolster his run for Governor (as suggested by AC at 00:07). Unfortunately, a lot of Constitutionally dubious measures are proposed with such motivations.
It's my way or the highway
So to put it more succinctly, this state Attorney General is making personal threats against the employees of a company because he personally objects to information on the company's website. At the same time, acting as state AG, he's ordering the company to remove non-illegal information in additional to information he considers illegal (taking down all "erotic listings" versus just those listings "encouraging prostitution"). Sounds to me like he himself broke a number of laws by sending that letter.
Also, how precisely does this AG expect a website to block services to citizens of his state? The Internet is a global medium, and there is literally no way to determine where a visitor is physically located. You can guess by using geolocation of their IP address, but that's just a guess which may be inaccurate due to proxies or a number of other causes. There are (at least) three things which will always hold true on the Internet: 1) there is no way to know where someone is physically located, 2) there is no way to verify someone's age, and 3) there is no way to prove that the person sitting in front of the host is the person they claim to be.
Illegal and Unlawful
Ah, illegal and unlawful. Know what the difference between them is?
Unlawful is something that is proscribed by law.
Illeagle is a sick bird...