"The best evidence is thousands of ads that remain on Craigslist – skimpily and slickly disguised with code words.
It's also wrong to reduce the now-shuttered erotic-services section to an "online red light district." The thousands of listings posted there every day offered a range of unpredictable commercial experiences, the majority of which required actual adults to meet in actual homes and hotels to have them.Far from unregulated public sex, each interaction had to begin with a few e-mails and, often, a light background check.The Connecticut attorney general, hot off a war on Facebook and My Space for their alleged exposure of young people to sexual predation, started a crusade against Craigslist last March.(He was joined by 39 more attorneys general in November.) Sure enough, when Craigslist CEO Jim Buckmaster announced the company's decision to kill the site's sex ads, Blumenthal and his supporters declared victory. By organizing and consolidating a sector of the informal economy, Craigslist was certainly helpful for sexual-service providers.The Boston Police Department reported that "Craigslist was cooperative in identifying and locating" accused murderer Philip Markoff; Craigslist spokeswoman Susan Best notes that "a digital trail left by those breaking the law" allows Craigslist to support criminal investigations in a way, say, a newspaper cannot.
In the case of Markoff, what could have become a series of murders was put to a quick halt once his inbox was examined.
Though the Connecticut attorney general has deemed it "a blatant Internet brothel," Craigslist is closer to Times Square in its heyday.
Alongside vendors hawking used books, cheap electronics, and hand-me-down gold jewelry, you'll also find half-baked scams, poorly spelled signage, and sex for sale and trade.
But it also was a major boon for law enforcement, which could centralize its sting operations—thanks to Craigslist, a bust was only a mouse-click away.
While the death of the erotic-services section is a PR win for Blumenthal—and for Craigslist, which can claim that it's cleaned up its act—it's terrible news for sex workers, who will lose a measure of safety, and for beat cops, who will now find it harder to crack down on the sex trade that Blumenthal supposedly wants to end.
Craigslist, the San Francisco-based online marketplace that's been around for nearly as long as the Web, has always hosted ads for prostitution.