Monday, March 9, 2009

Elsie Law's Daily Dose Of The Law: The Craig's List Lawsuit

An Illinois sheriff is suing Craig's List. The sheriff alleges that the online ad site is knowingly promoting prostitution. In the federal lawsuit, the Cook County sheriff is requesting that the site be mandated to shut down a section of their site that he deems to be "the single largest source of prostitution in the nation." The Cook County sheriff feels that Craig's List provides a vehicle for missing children, runaways, and abused women to be traded and sold.

This is not the first time that the site has been named in a lawsuit. Last year, they settled a federal lawsuit with a promise to implement new rules that would prevent prostitution from running rampant on their site. However, the sheriff who is a plaintiff in the current suit, feels that the changes have been minuscule, if any.

According to the BBC, Craig's List feigns knowledge of the details of the current lawsuit that they have been named in. Their spokesperson has states that the owners of the site are very cooperative with the police when it comes to any misuse of the site. The spokeswoman has also states that "Craig's is an extremely unwise choice for those intent on committing crimes, since criminals inevitably leave an electronic trail to themselves that law enforcement officers will follow."

In my opinion, it is pertinent that web sites be disallowed from allowing dangers to blatantly lurk. The legal questions that will likely arise and be debated are: How responsible are site owners for the activity that goes on their sites? It is obvious that site owners can have but so much control; especially when their sites have a high level of traffic. How much due diligence must a site owner show regarding any criminal activity that might occur via their web site? The answer to this question is especially important regarding sites like Craig's List that is set up for its users to solicit and promote businesses. Lastly, will sites- like Craig's List- and lawsuits- like the one discussed in this entry- be the raison d' etre for even greater Big Brother-like control systems to be implemented into the internet? Where will the lined be drawn?

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