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November 06, 2008

LITTLE ROCK- Today, Attorney General Dustin McDaniel announced that Arkansas and 42 other states have reached an agreement with the online classified ad website Craigslist that will greatly limit inappropriate content and illegal activity in its erotic services section. This effort was led by Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal. Also joining in this agreement is the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC).

Under the agreement, Craigslist will require that posters of erotic services ads give a working phone number and pay a fee with a valid credit card. The site will provide the resulting information in response to law enforcement subpoenas. All proceeds from erotic services ads will be donated to charity.

The fee and phone requirements should significantly reduce the number of erotic services posts for illegal activity and provide law enforcement with a road map to prosecute violations of law.
Craigslist has also committed to sue 14 software and Internet companies that for a fee help erotic service ad posters circumvent the website's defenses against inappropriate content and illegal activity. The site will provide the attorneys general with information about those businesses for possible civil and criminal prosecution.

In addition, Craigslist will deploy search technology that it developed to assist the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children and law enforcement agencies in identifying missing persons, children and victims of human trafficking. It will also explore technology to block inappropriate image uploads and better filter for code words and euphemisms for illegal activity.

"I am glad to see Craigslist cooperating with the Attorneys General on this very important issue," McDaniel said. "This is a great step in the never ending battle to protect our children online."
Other steps by Craigslist to crack down on erotic services ad content include:
• Attach "tags" to the erotic services section that assist parental screening software;
• Employ "digital tagging" to identity and eliminate inappropriate content. Users flag ads that violate Craigslist's terms of service, which include prohibitions on pornography and criminal activity. Ads that reach a certain threshold of "flags" will be automatically eliminated.
• Meet on a regular basis with the attorneys general to discuss additional ways to fight inappropriate content and making the site safer.