Archive for the ‘Government’ Category

Obama Seeks Commerce Secretary, Skiis

February 13, 2009

Breaking news on Huffington Post:

“The position of Commerce Secretary is too important to remain unfilled another day,” Mr. Obama said.  “That’s why it is absolutely essential that this Craigslist thing work.”

President Obama reportedly scanned the “sporting goods” category for bargains while he was at it.

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.”

Vox Populi

April 17, 2008

Recently testified before the House Subcommittee on National Security and Foreign Affairs, as part of a public hearing on the sale of sensitive military equipment on the internet.

It was a great learning experience, and we look forward to working more closely with the experts to provide craigslist users with better information as to what is and is not allowed to be sold.

Intriguingly though, of the organizations represented in this hearing, including the Department of Defense (which sells military surplus online), Ebay, and craigslist, it seemed evident to the Members of Congress (and everyone else in the room), that craigslist was already doing the best job of keeping sale of the items in question at bay, despite our small staff.

Had occasion to touch on this during the opening statements:

“Contrary to what the GAO report implies, craigslist has more people actively engaged in its anti-fraud efforts than any web site on earth. In addition to our in-house anti-fraud team numbering a dozen or more staff members, and the automated blocking and screening routines we have developed, craigslist benefits from tens of millions of passionate users diligently reviewing every ad on the site, with each user having the power to delete inappropriate ads, which power they exercise to the tune of several million ads removed each month. To their credit, the GAO investigators did notice that questionable ads were actually being removed from craigslist as they searched the site, an observation they did not make about any other site in their report.”

When it comes to site moderation on a massive scale, it’s difficult for a centralized staff of any size to compete with the efforts of tens of millions of vigilant and empowered users.

Criticism Welcome, Defamation Not So Much

April 2, 2008

The Connecticut Attorney General, Richard Blumenthal, recently denounced craigslist to members of the media, for what he alleged were shortcomings in the “erotic services” section of craigslist for areas of Connecticut.

We were disappointed that he chose to ignore our recent progress in dramatically improving compliance with our terms of use, shocked at the bizarre assertion that we are “stonewalling”, and frankly stunned to hear craigslist recklessly slandered as “profiting from prostitution“.

We welcome feedback from any and all interested parties as to how we can improve, but craigslist will not be used as a punching bag for false and defamatory statements.

Unlike the telephone yellow pages, many newspapers, and countless websites, which for many years have profited from “erotic service” ads, craigslist derives no revenue (let alone profit) from “erotic services”, and in fact we incur significant costs in enforcing our terms of use regarding these ads.

Connecticut craigslist users are no doubt curious as to why their AG is spending time attacking freedom of speech and law-abiding companies that provide much-needed free services to the people of Connecticut, when there is so much actual crime left unaddressed. We don’t have the answer, but would be interested to know what it is.


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