On May 20, two days after demanding an apology from South Carolina Attorney General Henry McMaster for the latter's threats of prosecution, Craigslist CEO Jim Buckmaster announced in corporate blog posting that the popular community-posting site would be filing a lawsuit against McMaster in South Carolina federal court.
Specifically, Craigslist is seeking declaratory relief and a restraining order "with respect to criminal charges he has repeatedly threatened against craigslist and its executives," Buckmaster wrote in the blog post.
"Interestingly, if you read Mr McMaster's ultimatum carefully, you'll note that the only way to definitively comply with it is to take down the craigslist sites for South Carolina in their entirety," Buckmaster added. "The open architecture of craigslist, quintessential to the value it provides for users, simply does not allow for the absolute prevention of solicitation or pornography, with respect to any of its categories and functions."
The 'ultimatum' to which he refers was a statement, posted over the weekend on the South Carolina Attorney General's Web site, which refers to Craigslist's alleged refusal to remove "advertisements for prostitution and graphic pornographic material" and threatens to "move forward with criminal investigation and potential prosecution."
"Mr McMaster's repeated threats of criminal prosecution should we refuse to shut down craigslist for South Carolina have left us little choice but to seek declaratory relief before the court," Buckmaster added.
Craigslist has already promised to remove the 'Erotic Services' category from its site this week, in response to protests. In its place, the site plans to introduce an Adult Services section, whose postings will be individually reviewed.
In previous blog postings, Buckmaster has repeatedly claimed that Craigslist's South Carolina adult postings are tame, especially when compared to the adult content available through newspapers and other online sites.
In the letter announcing the suit, Buckmaster claims that Craigslist is operating in full compliance with all applicable laws, has been "unusually responsive" to past requests from law enforcement, and has adopted screening measures far more stringent than those applied by McMaster to potentially criminal material.
The letter also states that usage of Craigslist in South Carolina has experienced explosive growth over the last two years, including community growth approaching 2000 percent in certain cities.