Craigslist claims 'spectacular' results in curbing sex ads
Popular website Craigslist, under fire for allegedly promoting prostitution, said Tuesday it has had "spectacular" results in clamping down on sex ads on the Internet bulletin board.
Craigslist chief executive Jim Buckmaster said in an online message that the volume of erotic services ads had dropped 90 to 95 percent in Chicago and four other US cities since tougher measures were put in place last year.
Buckmaster said the crackdown on sex ads stems from a collaborative effort launched in November with 40 US attorneys general and the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.
"The early results from the collaborative joint effort ... have been spectacular," he said. "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."
Measures include calling telephone numbers in ads to verify information, charging fees, and requiring people placing the ads to provide valid credit card information, according to Craigslist.
Tuesday's posting is Craigslist's latest shot at Cook County Sheriff Thomas Dart, who is suing the website for promoting prostitution with free classified ads for "erotic services."
Dart filed a lawsuit last week in US District Court accusing Craigslist of being the largest source of prostitution in the nation for allowing ads by people offering sex for cash.
Dart's lawsuit was filed four months after San Francisco-based Craigslist settled a nationwide lawsuit by promising to enact new rules to crack down on prostitution.
"This section is a convenient clearing house for pimps, prostitutes and patrons that enables sellers to advertise and buyers to peruse discretely," Dart said in court filings.
Dart is asking a federal judge to order Craigslist to eliminate its Erotic Services section.
He is also seeking reimbursement for tax dollars spent paying the salaries of officers who investigate and arrest those responsible for trafficking prostitutes on the website.
US law protects Craigslist and other websites from being responsible for content posted by users, the website's lawyers argue.
Buckmaster pledged that Craigslist will "vigorously" defend against Dart's lawsuit.