Monday, March 30, 2009

Dr. Phil on Craigslist and "The Dark Side of the Internet"; law enforcement and attorneys general want more laws to stop pimping

On a day when the Washington Post reported prosecutions from Internet activity associated with Va Tech and after CBS "60 Minutes" made its alarming report on Conflicker, Dr. Phil aired a sensational program called “The Dark Side of the Internet”, link here. Specifically, the show covered the use of Craigslist by women offering themselves as companions for “donations”.

The show started with an interview with Chicago Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart, who sued Craigslist for promoting “prostitution”, and ended with an interview with the Connecticut attorney general, who wants a state law requiring customers seeking erotic services to give a phone number and credit card number so they can be tracked down.

But most of the show dealt with Ashley, who started offering the “companionship” in order to earn money to pay student loans. This sounds like the old problem of going for “illegal activity” driven underground when the economy is tough – very much like ranchers growing marijuana when farm prices were too low. Libertarianism offers a solution – legalize it, and maybe tax it, but don’t drive it underground and create an unsavory profit motive.

Dr. Phil also presented a mother whose daughter had done this, and who was attacked by her pimp. Dr. Phil then confronted Ashley with the possibility that she could face similar dangers, as well as the possibility of arrest and a criminal record. The notion that a girl’s siblings could be put at risk if she tried to quit was mentioned.

Craigslist declined to appear on the show, despite invitation; however it did offer a statement from CEO Jim Buckmaster, available on the web page for today’s show.

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