The futility of flogging Craigslist

End of Adult Services section couldn’t be more meaningless

Robert Cringely shows his BS detector to be finely tuned in a column calling law enforcement's obsession with Craigslist exactly what it is: political posturing aimed not at not curbing crime but currying favor with voters.

As such this pubic pillorying might be easily ignored (except by Craigslist) if not for the potential harm it could bring to open discourse on the Internet.

From that post:

There's no question Craigslist's promise to screen adult ads is essentially a joke or that putting a "censored" label over the Adult Services section has done nothing to remove these kinds of ads -- try a simple search on the terms "escort," "exotic," or "adult" if you're not convinced (though you'll have to wade through a fair number of ads for Ford Escorts, exotic animals, and adult swim lessons).

If you don't let these people advertise under "Adult Services," they'll advertise the same services elsewhere -- whether it's in Personals, Small Business, or the Skilled Trade Services section. And as (Craigslist CEO Jim) Buckmaster has pointed out in numerous blog posts, they can certainly advertise just as easily outside of Craigslist -- like in the local papers of those jurisdictions in the AGs' respective backyards or on eBay's classifieds. So far, we haven't heard much about state AGs going after those guys.

What the AGs are doing is urging Congress to neuter the safe harbor provisions of the Communications Decency Act, which was and should remain Washington's acknowledgement that the free flow of information and opinions on the Internet would be impossible if every site were held legally accountable for anything anyone might write and self-post. Those who believe it possible and practical to saddle Web site operators with such a policing obligation simply do not understand enormity of the task.

Personally, I don't believe in prohibition, and since I am not running for office, I'll offer the opinion that prostitution (along with gambling and marijuana) should be legal, regulated and taxed.

You don't need to agree, but hopefully there will be an overwhelming public consensus that sacrificing an open Internet in the name of enforcing the unenforceable would be nothing less than a crime.

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