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For immediate release Thursday, November 6, 2008.
Contact Eric Tabor 515-281-5191.

“Craigslist” Agrees to Crack Down
on Inappropriate Content and Illegal Activity in “Erotic Services” Section

 

Des Moines. Attorney General Tom Miller said Thursday that Craigslist -- the online classified ad website visited by millions of Americans each month -- has agreed with states to crack down on inappropriate content and illegal activity in the Craigslist “erotic services” section.

The agreement is designed to strengthen efforts against illegal activity such as circulation of child pornography and the sexual trafficking of children. Go to Joint Statement of the agreement.

Under the agreement, Craigslist will require parties that post “erotic services” ads to give a working phone number and pay a fee with a valid credit card, which should significantly reduce the number of erotic services posts for illegal activity. Craigslist also will provide the resulting information to law enforcement in response to subpoenas, which will assist prosecution of violations of law. Craigslist also will donate all proceeds from erotic services to charity.

Craigslist also has implemented a “community self-policing program” that allows users to “flag” a posting the user believes violates the terms of use, including the prohibition against pornography. An objectionable posting is eliminated automatically if it receives above a threshold number of flags.

“We appreciate Craigslist’s efforts to collaborate with the states and to improve public safety of Craigslist users,” Miller said.

Craigslist reached the agreement with the Attorneys General of a total of 43 states and territories [list below.] The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) also joined in the agreement. Craigslist has developed search capabilities to enhance its ability to assist NCMEC and law enforcement agencies in locating missing persons, and identifying exploited minors and victims of human trafficking.

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More background and detail:

The attorneys general of 43 states and territories entered the agreement with Craigslist and NCMEC: AZ, AR, CT, CO, DE, GA, HI, ID, IL, IN, IA, KS, KY, LA, ME, MD, MS, MT, NE, NV, NH, NJ, NM, NC, ND, OH, OK, OR, PA, RI, SC, SD, TN, UT, VT, VA, WA, WV, WI, WY, the District of Columbia, Guam, and the Virgin Islands. The states’ effort was led by the Connecticut AG Office.

Craigslist also committed to sue 14 software and Internet companies that for a fee help erotic service ad posters circumvent the website’s defenses against inappropriate content and illegal activity. Craigslist will provide the Attorneys General with information about those businesses for possible civil and criminal prosecution.

Craigslist also will explore technology to block inappropriate image uploads and better filter for code words and euphemisms for illegal activity. Craigslist also agreed to meet on a regular basis with the attorneys general to discuss other ways to fight inappropriate content and make the site safer.

Ernie Allen, President and Chief Executive Officer of NCMEC, the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, said he was honored to join with Craigslist and the Attorneys General in “this historic agreement to combat child prostitution advertisements and other illegal activity.”

Allen said: “The criminals engaged in the sexual trafficking of children no longer parade them on the streets of America’s cities. Today they market them via the Internet, enabling customers to shop for a child from the privacy of their own homes or hotel rooms.”

The agreement noted that Craigslist has a long record of implementing measures to prevent misuse of its web site, assisting law enforcement investigations, and improving safety for Craigslist users.

The agreement noted that Craigslist, the Attorneys General, and NCMEC would continue to work together to improve information presented by Craigslist to help raise awareness of “the enormous suffering caused by human trafficking and the exploitation of minors in this country.”

Craigslist is visited by more than 40 million Americans each month, generating more than 12 billion monthly page views.

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