Craigslist Sues S.C. Attorney General; He Claims Victory Over Adult Ads

May 20, 2009 11:30 AM PST
SAN FRANCISCO — In the latest shot in the battle over adult-oriented ads, Craigslist said it has filed suit against South Carolina Attorney General Henry McMaster.

Craigslist CEO Jim Buckmaster said in a blog post Wednesday that the company filed its suit in federal court in South Carolina and is seeking “declaratory relief and a restraining order with respect to criminal charges he has repeatedly threatened against Craigslist and its executives.”

McMaster last week presented Craigslist with a Friday-at-5.p.m ultimatum to remove portions of its site dedicated to South Carolina that “contains categories for and functions allowing for the solicitation of prostitution and the dissemination and posting of graphic pornographic material.”

The attorney general threatened criminal investigation and ultimately prosecution of its executive management if they wouldn’t comply.

At 5 p.m. on Friday, however, McMaster said that Craigslist failed to comply and said, “We have no alternative but to move forward with criminal investigation and potential prosecution.”

But on Wednesday, Buckmaster lashed out at the attorney general and said his actions are “unwarranted by the facts,” and “represent an unconstitutional prior restraint on free speech, and are clearly barred by federal law.”

McMaster on his blog Wednesday called Craigslist's legal action “good news” because “it shows that Craigslist is taking the matter seriously for the first time.”

“More importantly, overnight they have removed the erotic services section from their website, as we asked them to do,” he said. “And they are now taking responsibility for the content of their future advertisements.

“Unfortunately, we had to inform them of possible state criminal violations concerning their past practices to produce a serious response. We trust they will now adhere to the higher standards they have promised.”

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