The Web was supposed to be the "disintermediator" - the destroyer of unnecessary middlemen. Craiglist might have been intended to disintermediate newspaper classified advertising
(although Craig always denied that) but now it seems it has become the ultimate disintermediator - a pimp.
At least that's what Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart charges, noting that prostititutes regularly advertise their wares on the site, cutting out their own particularly vicious middlemen. Dart sued Craigslist for its role in prostitution. News.com has an interview with Dart, who said it's just a morals campaign. Children and women forced into prostitution against their will raise the concerns to a whole new level.
This (lawsuit) was my act of last resort. We're seeing some outrageous stuff here that we hadn't seen before. Our people on the street have seen the volume increase. It's become much more complicated for us. We can debate the whole 'Pretty Woman' thing. If a woman decides that this is a viable choice for employment, but that isn't the ones we're focused on.
...We arrested numerous juveniles over the last two years. What we found is that they weren't advertised as juveniles in most of them. We walk in to hear: 'You want a juvenile? We got a juvenile. You'll have to pay more but we have her for you.'
Greg Sandoval and Declan McCullagh's piece also included an interview with a regular Craigs-using prostitute named "Catherine."
"Craigslist is important to helping us avoid violence," says the woman, who is originally from Europe. "Craigslist is a way to filter out that kind of person...and with Craigslist there is no need for pimps." For people in her trade, she adds in a thick accent, "Craigslist is vital."
A Craigslist spokeswoman said that Craigslist is an active partner of law enforcement and helps track down illegal activity. The percentage of illegal activity on the site is relatively small she said. .... Perhaps if you count furniture sales and job listings ... but on the erotica/romance pages? That's hard to believe.