Craigslist CEO Jim Buckmaster is going on the offensive by filing a lawsuit in federal court in Charleston against South Carolina Attorney General Henry McMaster in an attempt to stop McMaster from threatening to prosecute executives of the internet site on prostitution or obscenity charges. McMaster says several ads appearing in the erotic section of the South Carolina portion of the website are blatant advertisements from prostitutes. McMaster called the lawsuit good news because it shows that Craigslist is taking the matter seriously for the first time.
“He doesn’t want to get prosecuted and we’ve told him as long as you obey the laws just like everybody else you want get prosecuted,” says McMaster.
Craigslist contends that under the federal 1996 Communications Decency Act, the company cannot be be held liable for content posted by users of the site, even if the ads are illegal.
McMaster says on November 2008, Craigslist entered in an agreement with 40 state attorneys general including him stating that they would clean up the ads on its website. McMaster says after pressing the issue, officials with Craigslist on May 12th, promised to clean up the ads on its sites here in South Carolina.
“I told them we appreciate that promise but we’ve had promises before and so we were proceeding on and we would have an open investigation on it. As of this past Tuesday night at midnight all the ads were gone.”
The suit also names the state’s 16 solicitors as defendants.
McMaster says he wanted to make it clear to Craigslist that they needed to follow up on the agreement they struck with him and other attorneys general back in November. They had hundreds if not thousands of them (ads) on in South Carolina and the rest of the country. 40 Attorneys general back in November of ’08 told them to take those things off and they didn’t do it so I told them again in May that they are still on in South Carolina. Get’em off!
The website shut down its “erotic services” section nationwide Tuesday and replaced it with an “adult services” section.
McMaster says it was clear that the website was being used by prostitutes in South Carolina and in other states. McMaster says a number of prostitutes were using the website as their traveling billboard. “There are some that follow the NASCAR races that were arrested just last week in Rock hill across from Carowinds. They said that yes we follow the NASCAR races and when the races move to another town we move to that town and we change our ad on Craigslist because it’s done by state, by regions, and even by towns.”