Advocacy group calls for Craigslist to take down sex services outside U.S.
A nonprofit public advocacy group on Wednesday urged Craigslist to take down adult services ads outside the United States, where they say most such ads are placed and where regulators may be more lax about child and female exploitation.
Members of the Polaris Project said the popular online classified Web site took an important first step toward stopping sex crimes and violence against women and children by removing erotic U.S. ads last weekend.
“We feel like if Craiglist is serious about addressing this issue of sex trafficking of women and children, they should complete the task and make complete and permanent that all erotic suites are closed down,” said Bradley Myles, executive director of the Polaris Project, which works to end human trafficking and slavery. The group receives funding from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Google and The Body Shop Foundation.
Craiglist’s actions have sparked debate over whether its decision, prompted by pressure by U.S. law enforcement, to take down erotic ads will help fight sex crimes.
Polaris and U.S. attorneys general call Craigslist the Wal-Mart for sex trafficking and crimes, where the the majority of online ads are placed for prostitution of women and children. By taking down the most centralized and biggest forum for sex ads, Craigslist has made it more difficult for people to get those services.
But some, including a Microsoft researcher in a column earlier this week, say the voluntary decision to take down adult services in the United States will only make it harder to track online predators. Check out my post from yesterday.
It is unclear whether Craiglist’s move, indicated only with a black “censored” label in place of its “adult services link,” is permanent. The company’s founder, Craig Newmark, has not commented.
Observers say the choice to call its decision censorship indicates that Craigslist views the move as a political issue.
Polaris said that the removal of such as is less about free speech and more about human rights. “We are absolutely saddened by the framing of it as censorship,” said Malika Saada Saar of Polaris. “When a child or woman is sold for sex, that is a human rights issue.”
September 8, 2010; 11:55 AM ET
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