Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Victory Over Craigslist, but the Fight Continues

The popular site, Craigslist, has come under some serious fire in the past couple of months because of their adult ad section. The blatant sexual ads have become almost like an internet catalog for men looking to buy sex. The sex trafficking industry has used sites like Craigslist to expand their clientele base, moving from the seedy tracks to cyberspace. There is no shortage of underage girls and enslaved women being bought and delivered to the highest bidder.

Yet, after the media storm shed light on this new avenue of sex trafficking, many states put pressure on Craigslist to remove their adult section and finally take responsibility for their part in the global crisis. On September 4, 2010, Craigslist finally stepped up to the plate and removed the adult section from their website. This proved to be a small victory in the ever expanding sex trafficking business.

Although this is indeed a victory to be applauded, we must not get so lax and think that is the end of the war. The demand for sex is astronomical and the supply is simply moving to a new location. Many experts are weighing in on the fact that although Craigslist has removed their adult section, there are plenty of other sites available and in use right now to promote prostitution. Sites such as Backpage.com and Adultfinder.com are welcoming the former Craigslist pimps and johns with open arms.

I applaud Craigslist for removing the adult section, but I am confident in saying that it was more of a PR move than a mandate. Why isn't the government doing something to crack down on sites that are obviously involved in the exploitation and trafficking of women and children? We have Section 230 of the Communication Decency Act to thank for that. This piece of legislature states that "No provider or user of an interactive computer service shall be treated as the publisher or speaker of any information provided by another information content provider." In other words, Craigslist nor any other website can be held liable for what is published on their sites or the actions that occur as a result of something posted on their site. The powers that be have pretty much left the door open for sex trafficking on the Internet to continue until these types of sites are held accountable for their part in the promoting and advertising sexually exploited victims.

The battle has been won, but the fight continues. Hopefully, at some point, companies will stop hiding behind the law and stand up for victim's right. Until then, advocates will continue to put the pressure on them, one site at at time.





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