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Craigslist agrees to crack down on advertisers in erotic services section

Post by Stacey Mulick / The News Tribune on Nov. 6, 2008 at 1:41 pm |
November 6, 2008 1:41 pm

Craigslist, the popular free, online classified advertising web site, has agreed to deter and crackdown on inappropriate content and illegal activity in its “erotic services” section.


The web site has entered into an agreement with the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children and 43 states, including Washington, that aims to curb child pornography, child prostitution and human trafficking, Washington state’s Attorney General’s Office reported today.


“Craigslist is helping crack down on those who try to misuse its site for illegal activities such as child exploitation,” Attorney General Rob McKenna stated in a press release.


Under the agreement, Craigslist will require users to provide a working phone number and pay a fee with a valid credit card if they want to post erotic services ads. The fees from those ads will be donated to charity, McKenna’s office reported.


If subpoenaed by law enforcement, the company will provide the phone number and credit card information.


The hope is the fee and phone requirements will reduce the number of illegal posts and “provide law enforcement with a road map to prosecute violators,” the press release states.


Here’s a little more from the press release:


Craigslist will sue 14 software and Internet companies that help users who post erotic service ads circumvent the site’s defenses against inappropriate content and illegal activity. Information about those businesses will be shared with attorneys general for possible civil and criminal prosecution.


In addition, Craigslist will deploy technology to assist NCMEC and law enforcement agencies in finding missing children and human trafficking victims. It will also explore technology to block inappropriate image uploads and better filter for code words and euphemisms for illegal activity.


Other steps by Craigslist to crack down on erotic services ad content include:


· Attach "tags" to the erotic services section that assist parental screening software.


· Employ "digital tagging" to identity and eliminate inappropriate content. Users flag ads that violate Craigslist’s terms of service, which include prohibitions on pornography and criminal activity. Ads that reach a certain threshold of "flags" will be automatically eliminated.


· Meet on a regular basis with the attorneys general to discuss additional ways to fight inappropriate content and making the site safer.


Since 2007, Attorney General McKenna’s Youth Internet Safety Task Force has been working to increase safety awareness in Washington and review legislation related to child pornography and unlawful communications with minors. The office’s new Internet Safety Web pages provide valuable information for teens, parents, educators and seniors.


Earlier this year, attorneys general nationwide reached agreements with Facebook and MySpace, in which the social networking sites agreed to take significant steps to better protect children from unwanted communications.


The following states signed the agreement with Craigslist: Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Georgia, Guam, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, Vermont, Virgin Islands, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin and Wyoming.

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