Internet Law

Police Target Craigslist Prostitution Ads

Vice squads are targeting prostitutes and johns trying to hook up through, the Web site that allows users to post ads.

Police say prostitutes running online ads favor Craigslist, which on just one day had some 9,000 new listings for erotic services in the New York area, the New York Times reports.

Police in cities across the country are taking note. Since last year, officers in Nassau County, N.Y., arrested 70 people for sex trafficking on the site. Deputies in Cook County, Ill., which includes Chicago, arrested 60 people in July for advertising sex services there.

A single decoy prostitution ad in Seattle resulted in the arrests of 71 men who responded, and 33 men who responded another ad in Jacksonville, Fla., were arrested.

Richard McGuire, Nassau’s assistant chief of detectives, says technology has worked its way into the oldest profession. “Craigslist has become the high-tech 42nd Street, where much of the solicitation takes place now,” he told the Times.

Craigslist president Jim Buckmaster says his staff of 24 people cannot monitor the 20 million or so ads that run on the site each month.

Kurt B. Opsahl of the Electronic Frontier Foundation says a 1996 law exempts Craiglist from legal liability for the ads. He points to a court’s dismissal of a suit alleging housing discrimination based on ads posted on the Web site.

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