Craigslist will replace its controversial online "erotic services" listings with a section where ads are individually checked by Craigslist employees before they are posted, according to Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal.
The popular national classified-ad Web site — which Blumenthal called “a blatant Internet brothel” — has been accused by law enforcement officials across the United States of promoting prostitution through its erotic ads. “Craigslist is heeding our clear call for conscience and common sense, sending a strong signal that Internet sites must police themselves to protect others,” Blumenthal said. Craigslist representatives met in New York last week with Blumenthal and the attorneys general of Missouri and Illinois, all of whom asked the company to shut down its “erotic services” sections in their states. Cook County, Illinois, Sheriff Thomas Dart called Craigslist “the single largest source of prostitution in the nation.” “As head of the multistate attorney general task force,” Blumenthal said, “I was informed by Craigslist late last night that it will eliminate the ‘erotic services’ section within seven days, create a new section called ‘adult services,’ and manually review every ad posted there to bar flagrant prostitution and pornography.”
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Craigslist executives did not immediately respond Wednesday to CNN’s calls and e-mails seeking comment. Blumenthal said state agencies will keep a close eye on the Web site and others “to make sure prostitution and pornography do not migrate and move elsewhere.” “We will be monitoring closely to make sure that this measure is more than a name change from ‘erotic’ to ‘adult’ and that the manual blocking is tough and effective to scrub prostitution and pornography,” he said. “Our continuing investigation will assure that these steps are substance, not just spin, and that Craigslist really shuts down its open online red light district.” In November 2008, Craigslist entered into an agreement with more than 40 attorneys general and the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children to add safeguards to combat unlawful activity and improve public safety. As part of the reforms, Craigslist agreed to implement credit card verification, assess a fee and require a phone number from people posting “erotic services.”