Craigslist Suit Challenges Immunity of Web Operators

A federal suit against Web site for allowing discriminatory housing ads may cause companies to reconsider the extent to which they should leave their sites open to unmonitored posting from the general public.

Filed in U.S. District Court in Chicago, the suit seeks to force Craigslist to report to authorities anyone trying to post a discriminatory ad. The suit also demands that Craigslist implement screening software that will vet housing postings for discriminatory content.

Ironically, these attempts at doing the right thing may expose Craigslist to liability.

"There's an argument that Craigslist is editorializing by arranging for the removal of offensive ads of which they become aware," says Melissa Klipp, an IP and Internet law litigator with Drinker Biddle & Reath in New Jersey. "Despite the fact that Craigslist's efforts appear to be in good faith, they may be on a slippery slope because their efforts put them closer to the position of a print publisher."


Julius Melnitzer

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