A congressional committee will hold hearings today on the sex trafficking of minors, and among the witnesses will be a representative from Craigslist. The online-classifieds company recently shut down the adult-services section of its website after repeated threats from state law enforcement officials, says NPR. Craigslist isn’t alone in its illicit offerings. “Craigslist is only one of the many vehicles out there on the Internet that post advertisements for illicit sexual acts,” says Sgt. Greg Albin of the vice squad in San Jose, Ca., and the veteran of many sex-crime investigations.
Online-safety advocates expect new sites to pop up. “There’s money that can be made here,” says Parry Aftab of Wired Safety. “I suspect that you’re going to be seeing a lot more of them through photos, video and new offering sites that are out there.” There are plenty of ads for illicit sex that can be found on major commercial websites other than Craigslist – Google and eBay, to start with. Albin says the big companies aren’t very helpful: “None of them go over and above to cooperate with police investigations.” The companies have other factors to weigh, he explains. “All of them consider confidentiality quite a bit. All of them rely on their First Amendment rights.”