Craigslist CEO asks S.C. AG to apologize

May 18, 2009 12:00:00 AM PDT
The attorney general in South Carolina is going after Craigslist saying he has no choice but to prosecute its executives for prostitution. So far it is just a threat, but the Craigslist CEO is firing back.

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Not only is Craigslist CEO Jim Buckmaster not apologizing, but he wants an apology from the South Carolina attorney general for singling out his company. Those who make their living selling sex, say these men aren't the ones who stand to lose in this fight.

Two San Francisco sex workers say they get about 10-15 percent of their business from their Craigslist ads. The fact that Craigslist will take down the erotic services category on Wednesday has sent a chill through the trade.

"It is kind of a big deal for a lot of sex workers right now," says "Zoe," a sex worker.

Craigslist is doing it in response to criticism that the category promotes prostitution. The company has hired people to read every ad submitted for the new adult services category and they'll reject anything that sounds illegal.

"It's our responsibility to try to do the right thing in the eyes of law enforcement," says Buckmaster.

But they aren't doing it fast enough for the South Carolina attorney general. Henry McMaster wanted all ads taken down on Monday. He posted a statement on his website saying he has no alternative, but to "move forward with criminal investigation and potential prosecution."

"If I am imprisoned over this I'm going to be sitting elbow to elbow with some very elite company because all the CEOs of major internet companies are going to be there with me," says Buckmaster.

Buckmaster says there are ads on other websites far more explicit than the ones on Craigslist. He points out he's also getting criticized by free speech advocates and people in the sex industry.

"You know you're approaching the right balance when you're being criticized by all of those parties," says Buckmaster.

These women aren't worried about the fight between these two powerful men. They're more focused on how dangerous this could be. They think this could push some prostitutes even further underground.

"Their main fear is having to go back on the streets because Craigslist was their main money maker," says Zoe.

As to why Craigslist is waiting till Wednesday to pull all the ads, it is because some ads are prepaid through Wednesday.

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