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Craigslist Becomes Focal Point For Battleground Over Offline Laws In An Online World

Is it freedom of expression on the web or compliance with the Fair Housing ActCraigslist.org (not affiliated with the Craig that writes this blog) was sued earlier this month by Chicago Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, according to this New York Times article published today. 

Newspaper publishers smiled, but are likely reserving judgment at this point.  Craigslist has eliminated a lot of classified advertising revenue from newspapers through its online ads for housing space.  The web-based service allows some two million users annually to publish ads on its site (and some nine million ads overall since its inception 10 years ago), but it charges for the ads. 

Unlike the newspaper ads, which must comply with the Fair Housing Act and screen out discriminatory ads, Craigslist presently does not.  According to the NYT article linked above, "[t]he ads the housing group [the Chicago Lawyer's Committee] said it spotted on Craigslist contained language like 'African-Americans and Arabians tend to clash with me' and 'No kids allowed.'  Other ads the group flagged gave requirements like 'single occupancy only' or 'no minorities.' "  Under the FHA, those ads would be deemed discriminatory.

According to a Stanford Law Review article referenced on the Chicago Lawyers' Committee site, the FHA applies to internet classified ads.  We'll wait to see how the court rules.

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Printer friendly page Permalink Email to a friend Posted by J. Craig Williams on Thursday, February 23, 2006 at 22:39 Comments Closed (1) |
 
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