"I believe that the very broad immunity claimed by craigslist and other websites should be substantially reduced," Blumenthal said in an interview. "Congress should certainly modify or clarify the standard to cut back on the immunity that they claim is virtually absolute."
Blumenthal said websites such as craigslist should have the same legal status as newspapers that abet criminal activity — not blanket protection.
Imagine an Internet where every site was liable for every comment left by some halfwit. Imagine the damage you could do to a site you didn't care for just by sprinkling a few scurrilous comments or what could happen to political sites like Daily Kos or RedState, where that kind of commenting is standard fare. Most sites these days have their hands full just trying to fight comment spam, let alone trying to police content that might "abet criminal activity." If the safe harbor provisions of the CDA came down, they'd likely take vast numbers of websites with them.
If the states really were listening to "the voices of the victims, women and children" and wanted to crack down on prostitution, they could simply order the cops to contact a few advertisers on Craigslist and arrest them for soliciting. Once word got out the police were cracking down on Craigslist ads, those ads would dry up. The hookers would move on to another venue.
Because that's all banning adult ads from Craigslist would do. It won't solve the problem. It will just move it down the road a few blocks, possibly long enough for the next round of elections to come and go. Otherwise, the AGs' "crackdown" on Craigslist is little more than a cheap publicity stunt.
Should Craigslist ban adult ads, or should the state AGs focus on other things like fighting actual crimes? Post your thoughts below or email me: firstname.lastname@example.org.
This article, "Craigslist to state attorneys: Censor this," was originally published at InfoWorld.com. Follow the crazy twists and turns of the tech industry with Robert X. Cringeley's Notes from the Field blog, and subscribe to Cringely's Notes from the Underground newsletter.