Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart has announced that his office is suing Craigslist, calling it "the single largest source of prostitution in the nation." From the Chicago Tribune:
Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart announcing a lawsuit against Craigslist. (Michael Tercha/Chicago Tribune)
He added later, "I could make arrests off Craigslist 24 hours a day, but to what end?" By filing the suit, he said, "I'm trying to go up the ladder."
Dart said he had been working with Craigslist representatives for months, sending letters requesting them to take down or provide greater self-policing of their "erotic services" section, but his pleas have been met with no response.
The sheriff said he believes the company has been unresponsive because the "erotic services" section generates a large portion of the company's $80 million annual revenue.
While this lawsuit is little more than a sad publicity stunt by the sheriff's office, I remain uncertain whether or not it's a good thing for Craigslist to have an "erotic services" category. I understand the argument that it centralizes these ads in one place rather than having these ads spammed through other Craiglist categories, but I'm confused what, if any, "erotic services" advertised in this category are ever legal. If everything directed to this category is always illegal, it seems like Craigslist could, and perhaps should, voluntarily choose to eliminate the category altogether. That may require Craigslist to invest some more resources policing its other categories to prevent their spamming/hijacking by the dispersed ads, but that may be the unavoidable cost of a free classified ads service.