Updated 12:17 p.m.
Craigslist has filed a federal lawsuit against S.C. Attorney General Henry McMaster to prevent him from charging officials of the worldwide Internet classified ad site with violating state prostitution or obscenity laws, Craigslist CEO Jim Buckmaster announced this morning.
The suit seeks declaratory relief and a restraining order "with respect to criminal charges he has repeatedly threatened against craigslist and its executives, Buckmaster said on his company blog.
In a prepared statement today, McMaster described the suit as "good news," saying, "It shows that Craigslist is taking the matter seriously for the first time."
"More importantly," McMaster continued, "overnight they have removed the erotic services section from their website, as we asked them to do. And they are now taking responsibility for the content of their future advertisements. If they keep their word, this is a victory for law enforcement and for the people of South Carolina."
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McMaster said his office and state law enforcement agencies will "continue to monitor the site to make certain that our laws are respected."
In an exclusive interview two days ago with The State newspaper, Buckmaster would not comment directly whether he or his company planned a possible lawsuit against McMaster, saying only, "Threats are not really my style. I'll just leave that right where it is."
McMaster has said that the "erotic services" section of Craigslist often has been a front for prostitution, and that obscene pictures routinely are posted in various sections of the site. Buckmaster said the erotic services section would be discontinued nationwide this week and replaced with an "adult services" section that would be manually monitored by company staff.
But McMaster said that proposal didn't go far enough, and that Buckmaster didn't comply with a Friday deadline to remove illegal ads from the S.C. portion of the site.
Reach Brundrett at (803)771-8484