Archive for the ‘Law Enforcement’ Category

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.”

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.”

Rigshock Riders and the Tour de Cure

May 5, 2008

Team Craigslist AKA “Rigshock Riders” fielded 25 cyclists for yesterday’s Tour de Cure ride in Napa Valley, raising over $50,000 toward finding a cure for diabetes.

It’s a cause near and dear to our hearts — 2 of our 25 staff are diabetic, and our longtime PR maven Susan MacTavish Best is the granddaughter of Charles Best, co-discover of insulin.

Here are a couple shots of the craigslist peloton from the rear — reportedly the only vantage available to the other teams participating:

Here’s part of the team relaxing (oops am told this pic is from last year’s ride, pre-jerseys, duh), and Sean Knox, one of our sys admins, who has organized our charitable rides for 2 years running:

Kudos, Congratulations and Thanks to all who participated!


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