Archive for November, 2008

Corn Pone For All

November 27, 2008

Couple opens home to 32 for Thanksgiving Dins

Joint Statement with Attorneys General, NCMEC

November 6, 2008

Joint Statement with NCMEC and over 40 Attorneys General Detailing Measures to Prevent Illegal Activity and Improve Safety

craigslist Files 14 Lawsuits Against Software and Service Providers who Facilitate Misuse of Site

November 06, San Francisco, CA – craigslist announced today it is implementing sweeping new measures, in close partnership with state law enforcement and the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC), to prevent its online communities and classified ads from being misused for the facilitation of human trafficking, child exploitation, and other illegal activities.

The measures were outlined in a joint statement signed by craigslist, NCMEC, and the Attorneys General of more than 43 U.S. states and territories, representing a broad collaborative effort spearheaded by Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal. The specific measures outlined in today’s joint statement were shaped during face-to-face meetings between Jim Buckmaster, CEO of craigslist, Attorney General Blumenthal, and representatives of NCMEC.

“Preventing site misuse and improving public safety are our highest priorities,” said Jim Buckmaster, CEO of craigslist, “and we are extremely appreciative of the encouragement we’ve received from the attorneys general and NCMEC.” He added, “The incidence of crime on craigslist is actually exceedingly low, considering the tens of millions of legitimate ads posted each month by well-intentioned users.” “But no amount of criminal activity is acceptable, and as craigslist has grown, we have become aware of instances where our free services were being misused to facilitate illegal activities.” Buckmaster continued, “We are unequivocally committed to stamping out misuse of the site and to improving safety for craigslist users, through preventative measures such as the ones we are announcing as part of the Joint Statement.”

Due in part to the growth of craigslist, businesses have sprung up selling software and other services designed to evade craigslist’s terms of use, and to circumvent its technical defenses against misuse, including phone verification. By offering services designed to undermine craigslist’s ability to enforce its terms of use, these businesses facilitate the placement of ads for illegal services that would otherwise be blocked by craigslist’s protective measures. craigslist has no tolerance for these activities and has filed 14 lawsuits and is sending “cease and desist” demands to numerous other companies and individuals offering such services. In addition, craigslist will investigate and provide information to state attorneys general for the prosecution of those engaging in and facilitating criminal activity.

craigslist is constantly working to improve its existing tools for enforcing its terms of use. In this regard, the company has continued to refine its protocols for blocking inappropriate postings and advertisements for illegal services. In addition, a flagging system accompanies each ad, so that inappropriate content can be identified by users for quick removal. craigslist has also implemented the industry standard PICS rating system for tagging adult content, to facilitate parental screening software on home computers.

craigslist recently implemented a telephone verification system for the “erotic services” section of the site, requiring a working phone number for advertisers, and enabling blacklisting of phone numbers for those who post inappropriate ads. Phone verification resulted in an 80% reduction in ad volume, and significantly increased compliance with site guidelines.

In addition to phone verification and other existing protective measures, craigslist will soon require credit card verification and a small fee per ad for posting in “erotic services”, to further encourage compliance with
site guidelines. Paid ads that violate site guidelines will be removed without refund. The company intends to donate 100% of net revenue generated from the “erotic services” category to charity, with net revenue to be verified by an external auditor.

“Requiring credit card verification, and charging a fee to post in this category raises accountability to a point where we expect few illicit ads will remain,” says Buckmaster. “For those that do persist, telephone and credit card information will be available to law enforcement via subpoena. More than ever, those who would misuse craigslist to violate the law will find that craigslist is a very inhospitable place.”

The craigslist site is used by 40 million Americans each month, who represent a potent force for identifying and reporting illicit activity. In addition to participating in NCMEC’s Cybertipline program, and urging craigslist users to flag suspect postings and file a report anytime they suspect the exploitation of a minor or human trafficking, craigslist will work with NCMEC and the state attorneys general to further improve site messaging to build awareness of these important issues. Buckmaster added, “Human trafficking and child exploitation are despicable crimes, and in addition to working diligently to prevent such abuse, we want to do everything we can to raise awareness among craigslist users so that they will be even more vigilant.”


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