Archive for the ‘Legal’ Category

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.”

Delaware Crossing

May 15, 2008

Our response [cl.de.response] in DE.

“Openness, Honesty, and Integrity”

May 14, 2008

Navigational searches on Yahoo for “www.craigslist.org” or “craigslist.org” have been bringing up eBay textads featuring hyperlinked craigslist URLs, designed to confuse and misdirect users seeking craigslist onto eBay sites. Here is a link to a screen shot of one such search taken this morning, and an image of the text ad itself:

We’ve tried to give eBay the benefit of doubt, but it’s hard to reconcile deceptive, trademark-infringing ads calculated to harm craigslist and its users with statements like this one from eBay yesterday:

“eBay has, and will continue to be, a minority shareholder who believes in Craigslist, shares its values and acts with openness, honesty and integrity in its dealings with Craigslist’s board and the online community.

In fact, these ads suggest that they do not share our values at all, and that they are being anything but open and honest with the online community

UPDATE – Looks like these ads have been withdrawn! Ceasing unlawful behavior out of fear of legal consequences falls short of “openness, honesty, and integrity”, but it’s a step in the right direction.

Unlawful and Unfair

May 13, 2008

We filed a complaint in California today, charging eBay with unlawful and unfair competition, misappropriation of proprietary information, deceptive passing-off, business interference, false advertising, phishing attacks, free-riding, trademark infringement, trademark dilution, and breaches of fiduciary duty.

We respectfully ask the Superior Court in San Francisco to enjoin this conduct and order eBay to (1) make full restitution to craigslist, (2) disgorge their related profits (3) restore to craigslist all shares of the company acquired by means of, or for the purpose of unfair competition, and (4) pay punitive damages for their malicious behavior.

Full text of complaint is available in PDF.

Complaint Department

April 30, 2008

The public version of Ebay’s claims is now available.

We will file our formal response in the next few weeks, and until then will do our best to abide by protocol in not responding to specific assertions made in Ebay’s complaint.

As those who know us best will recognize, every measure we have taken has been for the sake of protecting the long term well-being of the craigslist community.

Sadly, we have an uncomfortably conflicted shareholder in our midst, one that is obsessed with dominating online classifieds for the purpose of maximizing its own profits.

It’s a conflict of interest worth keeping in mind if you decide to give this filing a read.

Note of Thanks

April 29, 2008

We really appreciate the outpouring of encouragement we have received in the last few days from craigslist users, from Ebay users, and from the general public.

Especially touching have been the messages of support from Ebay employees, one of which I’ll share here:

As an engineer at ebay, all I could think when I saw the news was, “Surely, there’s another place to work.” Frankly, I doubt that CL is always right about everything, but for eBay to sue CL is off the charts stupid. eBay had no business grabbing that 25% in the first place. It’s a shame, because my co-workers are really nice, sweet people. But it’s as if I am working for ********* or something. I feel dirty. I’ll be updating my resume this weekend.

For anyone interested in recent press coverage, here is an MSNBC articlefrom earlier today.

Tainted Love

April 22, 2008

Ebay has filed suit against craigslist and its board of directors:

http://news.ebay.com/releasedetail.cfm?ReleaseID=305980

We are surprised and disappointed by Ebay’s unfounded allegations, which came to us out of the blue, without any attempt to engage in a dialogue with us.

Coming from a shareholder that views craigslist as a prime competitor, filing suit without so much as mentioning these assertions beforehand seems unethical, and hints at ulterior motives.

Ensuring the future well-being of craigslist and the craigslist community is admittedly very important to us. But Ebay has absolutely no reason to feel threatened here — unless of course they’re contemplating a hostile takeover of craigslist, or the sale of Ebay’s stake in craigslist to an unfriendly party. (In which case, they’re out of luck.

For our part, we have always treated Ebay very fairly as a minority shareholder, and plan to continue doing so, despite this unfortunate development.

Addendum in response to commenter question – To be perfectly clear, Ebay’s stake in craigslist has not been “unfairly diluted” as they have claimed.

Kinder, Gentler C&Ds Please

April 4, 2008

I’m getting some well-deserved flak for a ham-handed cease-and-desist email I sent to a blogger recently. The dialogue had remained cordial until he revealed his business model – running deceptive textads such as the ones below, which got on my nerves:

He pulled the ads before sharing his story (and my emails) with the press, but not before we’d taken some screenshots. When it comes to following up with Ebay, Livedeal, TableForSix, I should probably leave the C&Ds to the professionals.

Fwiw, we have no interest in shutting down blogs about craigslist, critical or otherwise, and have never tried to do so. But in the strange world of trademarks and copyright, it’s poor practice to allow a confusingly similar domain or business name to go unchallenged. Given all the inquiries we’d gotten from reporters thinking this blogger was associated with craigslist, taken together with the deceptive textads and disrespect for our trademark and terms of use, we felt we had to act.

But there was no need for me to act like a jerk, provoked or not.

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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