Jacob Sullum weighs in:

[Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal] ignores both the law's role in fostering coercion and violence by driving [prostitution] underground and the protection that services like Craigslist can provide by allowing prostitutes to screen customers and avoid walking the streets. But to fully appreciate the audacity of his charge that money blinded Craigslist to the suffering of sex slaves, note that the company started charging for adult service ads in 2008 at the behest of law enforcement officials. The idea was that fees would thin the section, while requiring a credit card and a valid phone number would deter criminal activity.

Craigslist also hired dozens of lawyers to screen ads for compliance with the company's terms of use, which prohibit "offer or solicitation of illegal prostitution." Craigslist CEO Jim Buckmaster reports that "more than 700,000 ads were rejected by those attorneys in the year following implementation of manual screening" in May 2009, while Village Voice Media’s Backpage.com (where the ads are far more explicit) saw a big increase in business.

Bring back the ads.

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