Archive for March, 2009

George Weber

March 25, 2009

Our hearts go out to the family, friends, coworkers and many fans of George Weber. We are horrified and deeply saddened that craigslist may have been associated with a violent crime. We will of course provide law enforcement investigators with any assistance they require in pursuing their investigation.

We take many steps to prevent criminal misuse of craigslist and, in particular, to protect the safety of users. These measures include encouraging users, when meeting someone for the first time, to insist on meeting in a public place, to tell a friend or family member where they’ll be, to take along a cell phone, and to consider taking a friend with them.

While violent crime is exceedingly rare on craigslist, with only a handful of cases known out of billions of face-to-face human interactions facilitated through the site, sadly, there is a risk whenever meeting a stranger for the first time.

CL Collaboration with AGs, NCMEC – Early Results

March 9, 2009

The early results from the collaborative joint effort announced last November between craigslist, 43 US Attorneys General, and the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) have been spectacular, and we have been remiss in not saying more about them.

Here is a graph of the posting volume trend in “erotic services” over the past 12 months, as we added measures like phone verification (March) and credit card authorization (November) to the site:

The percentage reductions for the 5 cities shown range from 90% to 95%

Beyond the enormous reduction in ad volume, the ads that remain on the site are much improved in their compliance with our Terms of Use and local laws, in part due to screening measures developed in collaboration with the Attorneys General and law enforcement.

In this same timespan, craigslist staff have continued to work closely with law enforcement agencies across the country to vigorously pursue those engaged in the horrific crimes of human trafficking and exploitation of minors.

Finally, net revenue is accumulating from the fees now required of those posting under “erotic services,” 100% of which is earmarked for donation to worthy charities, and we will soon be in position to begin distributing these funds.

Our collaboration with the state Attorneys General and NCMEC has only just begun, and there will be more progress and good works to announce in the months and years to come.

“Now Comes Thomas Dart…”

March 6, 2009

We will respond to Cook County Sheriff Thomas Dart’s complaint (we have not yet been served, and learned of it only through press releases and media) sometime soon.  Our preliminary view is that the complaint is not well founded in law, and that it should be dismissed.

However, we still very much appreciate and commend the good work of Sheriff Dart’s department, and will continue to provide any and all assistance whenever we are called upon to help in their efforts to protect and serve the people of Cook County.

craigslist has a long history of cooperation with law enforcement. As example, here is a recent joint statement by craigslist, 40 state Attorneys General — including the Attorney General of Illinois Lisa Madigan — as well as the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC), which was announced in November 2008:

blog.craigslist.org/2008/11/joint-statement-with-attorneys-general-ncmec

craigslist is an extremely unwise choice for those intent on committing crimes, since an electronic trail is inevitably created that law enforcement officers can follow.  We pride ourselves on the prompt and valuable assistance we provide to police departments and federal authorities nationwide.

Here are some of the measures we currently take to prevent illegal activity on craigslist:

1. We ban all illegal activity in our Terms of Use
2. We place prominent notices on our posting forms warning against illegal activity
3. We perform telephone verification on user accounts as a requirement for posting in “erotic services”
4. We block ads containing language that in our experience has a high likelihood of violating our Terms of Use
5. We remove inappropriate ads that come to our attention
6. We block persons violating our Terms of Use from posting
7. We provide a community moderation system whereby our users flag inappropriate ads for removal
8. We place prominent notices asking users to flag inappropriate ads
9. In U.S. cities we require credit card authorization to post in “erotic services”, and charge a fee for each ad, with 100% of net revenues donated to charity.
10.  We label adult content using the PICS rating system, which supports most content control software programs
11. We prohibit the use of adult-only categories by persons under the age of 18
12. We participate in the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) Cybertipline program
13. We collaborate on user awareness campaigns regarding human
trafficking and child exploitation
14. We place notices encouraging users to report any suspected abuse of minors
15. We maintain a resource page to assist users in reporting suspected abuse of minors
16. We maintain information pages regarding personal safety on craigslist
17. We adapt our web site to aid the work of agencies working on human trafficking and exploitation issues
18. We respond promptly to inquiries and requests for assistance from law enforcement officers

More background information on the “erotic services” category is available here:

www.craigslist.org/about/erotic_services_FAQ

 

MYSTIFIED BY COOK COUNTY SHERIFF

March 6, 2009

Cites Record of Cooperation with Illinois Law Enforcement

San Francisco, CA – March 6, 2009
 – “Frankly, Sheriff Dart’s actions mystify me,” said craigslist CEO Jim Buckmaster, referencing the private civil suit filed against the online service yesterday by the Cook County (Illinois) Sheriff.

Buckmaster explained that “in mid and late 2007 we had very positive communications with the Cook County Sheriff’s Department, in which we explained how “erotic services” came to be, the purposes it is intended to serve, and the statutes that support our right to operate as we do.

“Since then, we have not only initiated multiple new measures to further reduce misuse of our website by anyone intending criminal activity, we also reached an agreement with 40 state attorneys-general, including Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan, about an enforcement plan designed to protect the public from those who would misuse our site.”

And yet, inexplicably, Sheriff Dart apparently bypassed the Illinois Attorney General’s office, and filed this complaint through a private law firm.

“As our counsel explained to Sheriff Dart’s Department in 2007, craigslist cannot be held liable as a matter of clear federal law for content submitted to the site by our users.” Buckmaster pledged to defend vigorously the lawsuit brought by the Sheriff.

Buckmaster further pledged craigslist’s continuing commitment to helping law enforcement officers nationwide locate and rescue victims and put criminals in jail. “We assist police forces all over the country, including members of Sheriff Dart’s department,” says Buckmaster.  “The vast majority seem to understand that craigslist is part of the solution when it comes to combating terrible crimes like human trafficking and child exploitation.”

“They know and appreciate that we are working very hard to eliminate misuse of our site and provide assistance with their investigations, and for that understanding we are very grateful.”


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