I read this article in the New York Times today and found it really encouraging.
"Craigslist, by shutting off its “adult services” section and slapping a “censored” label in its place, may be engaging in a high-stakes stunt to influence public opinion, some analysts say.
Since blocking access to the ads as theLabor Day weekend began — and suspending a revenue stream that could bring in an estimated $44 million this year — Craigslist has refused to discuss its motivations. But using the word “censored” suggests that the increasingly combative company is trying to draw attention to its fight with state attorneys general over sex ads and to issues of free speech on the Internet.
The law has been on Craigslist’s side. The federal Communications Decency Act protects Web sites against liability for what their users post on the sites. And last year, the efforts of attorneys general were stymied when a federal judge blocked South Carolina’s attorney general from prosecuting Craigslist executives for listings that resulted in prostitution arrests.
“It certainly appears to be a statement about how they feel about being judged in the court of public opinion,” said Thomas R. Burke, a First Amendment lawyer at Davis Wright Tremaine who specializes in Internet law and does not work for Craigslist. “It’s certainly the law that they’re not liable for it, but it’s another matter if the attorneys general are saying change your ways.”
Attorneys general and advocacy groups have continued to pressure the company to remove the “adult services” section. A letter from 17 state attorneys general dated Aug. 24 demanded that Craigslist close the section, contending that it helped facilitate prostitution and the trafficking of women and children.
The “adult services” section of Craigslist was still blocked in the United States on Sunday evening. “Sorry, no statement,” Susan MacTavish Best, Craigslist’s spokeswoman, wrote on Sunday in response to an e-mail message.
Analysts said that if the block was a temporary statement of protest, it could backfire because of the avalanche of news coverage that the site had received for taking down the ads.
“I’m very convinced that this is permanent, even if it was not their intention to make it permanent,” said Peter M. Zollman, founding principal of the Advanced Interactive Media Group, a consulting firm that follows Craigslist closely. “I think it will be difficult, if not impossible, for them to go back and reopen that section without really running into a buzzsaw of negative publicity and reaction.”
Attorneys general in several states said they had so far been unable to get any information from Craigslist.
“If this announcement is a stunt or a ploy, it will only redouble our determination to pursue this issue with Craigslist, because they would be in a sense be thumbing their nose at the public interest,” Richard Blumenthal, the Connecticut attorney general who has headed the campaign against Craigslist, said in an interview by phone on Sunday.
Mr. Blumenthal said Craigslist’s outside lawyer had been in touch with his office, but that the lawyer had not clarified whether the shutdown of the section was permanent, or said when Craigslist might make a statement.
Even though courts have said that Craigslist is protected under federal law, Mr. Blumenthal said part of his mission was to rally public support to change federal law.
“Raising public awareness is extraordinarily important, because it increases support for changes in the law that will hold them accountable,” he said. “Their view of the law, which is blanket immunity for every site on the Internet, never has been upheld by theUnited States Supreme Court, and I think there is some serious doubt.”
Richard Cordray, the Ohio attorney general, said in an interview by phone on Sunday: “We’re taking it at face value. I think it’s a step forward, maybe grudging, in response to the efforts of the attorneys general.”
But Lisa Madigan, the attorney general of Illinois, was more skeptical about Craigslist’s intentions. “Certainly because of the way they did it,” she said, “it leaves an open question as to whether this is truly the end of adult services on Craigslist or if this is just a continuing battle.”"