Intending to help police shut down illegal sex-for-hire ads, Washington state Attorney General Rob McKenna and his counterparts in 39 states announced an agreement Thursday with Craigslist.com in which the company adopted new policies. Under the agreement, the free classified ad site will require users who post ads under “erotic services” to provide a working phone number and pay a fee using a valid credit card, reports the Seattle Times. The information will be provided to police if the company is served with a subpoena.
The site is used by more than 40 million people each month to shop, sell or rent apartments, services and other goods, according to the company. But police say it’s increasingly used as a medium for pimps and prostitutes to reach clients, and in some cases, to sell the services of women or girls who were forced into prostitution. Earlier this year, police and federal agents in Lynnwood, Wash., arrested 15 people, including women and girls, who advertised escort services on Craigslist. Two years ago, in one of the largest Craigslist busts in the region, Seattle detectives posted their own ads on the Web site and arrested about 100 male customers who responded to a downtown hotel room rented for the operation. In addition, detectives posed as customers, answered real ads on the site and arrested 14 prostitutes, including girls under 16.