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AG’s Ask Craigslist To Remove Adult Services

August 25, 2010

Attorneys general in 17 states demanded Tuesday in a joint letter that Craigslist should remove its adult services section because the website cannot adequately block potentially illegal ads promoting prostitution and child trafficking.

“Only Craigslist has the power to stop these ads before they are even published,” Kansas attorney general Steve Six said in a statement. “Sadly, they are completely unwilling to do so.”

The letter said that Craigslist faces the prospect of losing revenue if it were to remove the adult services section.

“No amount of money, however, can justify the scourge of illegal prostitution and the suffering of the women and children who will continue to be victimized, in the market and trafficking provided by Craigslist,” the letter said.

Craigslist spokeswoman Susan MacTavish Best said in a statement that the site supports states’ efforts to stop illegal exploitation.

“We hope to work closely with them, as we are with experts at nonprofits and in law enforcement, to prevent misuse of our site in facilitation of trafficking,” she said.

Authorities have said that some encounters set up through Craigslist have ended in violence and even death.

Authorities said last week that a former medical student accused of killing a masseuse he met through Craigslist committed suicide in the Boston jail where he was waiting for trial.

The website has already put safeguards in place as it has evolved over the years.

Craigslist requires posters to provide a working phone number and pay a fee for placing an ad in the erotic services section.

The website renamed erotic services to adult services and said it would adopt a manual screening process, where postings would be reviewed before publishing.

However, state officials believe Craigslist is still not doing enough to try and put an end to illegal ads on its site.

Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal subpoenaed Craigslist in May, telling the website to provide proof it was holding up to its promise to stop ads for prostitution.

A spokeswoman for the Connecticut attorney general’s office said that Craigslist should provide its evidence in a few weeks.

Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley released a separate letter Tuesday that was sent to Craigslist officials and also asked the site to remove its adult services category.

“You should continue to build on your success in connecting users to each other and providing a forum for the exchange of legal goods and services,” she said.

The 17 states whose attorneys general signed the letter are Arkansas, Connecticut, Idaho, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Maryland, Michigan, Missouri, Montana, New Hampshire, Ohio, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas and Virginia.

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