It was reported last week that a Federal lawsuit had been filed by the Cook County Sheriff against Craigslist. The lawsuit alleges that Craigslist has effectively created the largest source for soliciting and/or promoting prostitution in the United States. It is important to emphasize that this is a lawsuit and not a criminal proceeding. No charges for promoting prostitution or solicitation have been filed, nor are any contemplated.
Federal law immunizes online advertisers from liability stemming from inappropriate ads placed on their sites provided a proper disclaimer is published on the site. The lawsuit alleges Craigslist repeatedly ignored notices that the site was being used for purposes of solicitation and to promote prostitution. Cook County claims that these actions negate Craigslist's shield under the law.
Our law firm includes a team of NJ Prostitution Defense Lawyers and I have to admit that Craigslist is clearly a primary source for online solicitation. There are also other portals on the site which arguable give rise to New Jersey Lewdness Charges. The fact remains, however, that the site is explicitly limited to adults and that Craigslist has no role in the conduct beyond allowing placement of ads. While it is obvious that the intention of the advertising is to promote prostitution, Federal law affords broad immunity to an entity like Craigslist. I have serious doubts that these claims will result in any government action against Craigslist.