Connecticut Attorney General Wants Craigslist Erotic Ads to Stop

HARTFORD, Conn. -- Connecticut's attorney general wants "Erotic Services" ads on the Craigslist to stop altogether and has proposed steps to combat prostitution.

The site's erotic ads section for various cities, states and regions has long featured barely disguised ads for massage girls, escorts and such. And Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal has had enough.

"What we'd like to see is the ads stop and the pornography blocked as well as the other very questionable promotions," he said, reports "They are unacceptably prevalent and intolerably rampant."

Wednesday Blumenthal sent the website's operators a letter containing new measures to curb or even eliminate ads for prostitution, in conjunction with an issued press release.

Blumenthal called for changes following Monday's arrest in Boston of a man dubbed in the media as the "Craigslist Killer," a name the ad-posting site disputed.

Police charged Philip Markoff, a Boston University Medical School student, with the murder of Julissa Brisman, a New York masseuse from Manhattan. Authorities allege he used Craigslist to set up an erotic massage appointment at a Boston hotel, then bound, robbed and killed Brisman. Markoff also is suspected in several other Craigslist-related attacks and one other murder, according to the Christian Science Monitor.

Blumenthal's proposal -- primarily for the erotic services section -- include: eliminating all photographs or using technology to screen for pornographic images; hiring staff to screen for images and ads that blatantly violate Craigslist's terms of service; charging a significant fee to the credit card of any individual posting in the section found to be in violation of rules or terms of service; offering a financial incentive -- from penalty proceeds -- to anyone who correctly flags and reports prostitution advertisements or ads containing images or other material that violate site rules and terms of service; implementing identity verification technology for users that post in the section to confirm real names and addresses; and disallowing search terms that clearly are associated with the promotion of prostitution (such as BJ, BBJ, escort, etc.).

"These signature steps can stop ads that lead to a horrific brutal tragedy such as the Boston murder, as well as other violent crime, human trafficking or exploitation of children," Blumenthal said in a statement.

"Craigslist has the means -- and moral obligation -- to stop the pimping and prostituting in plain sight," he added. "Like any brick-and-mortar establishment, Craigslist has the responsibility and power to prohibit prostitution, pornography and inappropriate behavior on its premises,"

In a blog posting Craigslist Chief Executive Officer Jim Buckmaster said he "appreciated" Blumenthal's suggestions and responded, "We agree that there is more work to be done, not just by Craigslist but by all Internet-based services, working cooperatively with law enforcement officials, to eliminate illegitimate activity to the greatest extent possible."

Last November, in conjunction with an agreement with 40 state attorneys general, Craigslist began requiring users posting in erotic services to provide credit card verification, pay a fee and have a working phone number. While postings to the sections diminished, it was observed some of the same ads that might've appeared there starting turning up the "casual encounters" section.

As reported by in March, Sheriff Thomas J. Dart of Cook County, Illinois filed a lawsuit against Craigslist, accusing the site's owners of  knowingly promoting and facilitating prostitution. The site responded that it had already been taken measured steps to eliminate the problem.

Last year, Craigslist came under fire when the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children found pictures of missing children in advertisements in those same erotic services sections, nationwide.