Craigslist to sheriff: Federal law protects site

Craigslist CEO says Cook County's sheriff is wasting his time, that federal law will not hold the Web classified publication liable for content submitted by users.

Greg Sandoval Former Staff writer
Greg Sandoval covers media and digital entertainment for CNET News. Based in New York, Sandoval is a former reporter for The Washington Post and the Los Angeles Times. E-mail Greg, or follow him on Twitter at @sandoCNET.
Greg Sandoval
2 min read

Craigslist CEO Jim Buckmaster has responded to the lawsuit filed this week by the sheriff of Chicago's Cook County against the Web classified publication.

Jim Buckmaster, Craigslist CEO Craigslist

Buckmaster suggested that the suit is a waste of time. Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart called Craigslist one of the country's largest sources of prostitution in the complaint he filed in federal court and asked the court to force Craigslist managers to remove their erotic services section.

Buckmaster said in a statement late Friday that Craigslist wrote Dart in 2007 and explained that the law is pretty clear and favors Craigslist.

"As our counsel explained to Sheriff Dart's Department in 2007," Buckmaster wrote. "Craigslist cannot be held liable, as a matter of clear federal law, for content submitted to the site by our users...Frankly, Sheriff Dart's actions mystify me."

A spokesman for the sheriff's department could not be reached on Friday.

Dart isn't the first to ask Craigslist to do more to weed out ads for prostitution. In Buckmaster's statement, he pointed out that in November, the site "reached an agreement with 40 state attorneys-general about creating a new enforcement plan for Craigslist."

Among the 40 was Lisa Madigan, attorney general for Illinois.

"And yet, inexplicably, Sheriff Dart apparently bypassed the Illinois attorney general's office and filed this complaint through a private law firm," Buckmaster wrote. "We assist police forces all over the country, including members of Sheriff Dart's department. The vast majority seem to understand that Craigslist is part of the solution when it comes to combating terrible crimes like human trafficking and child exploitation."