An official from Craigslist will appear before federal lawmakers on Wednesday for a hearing on sex trafficking, following its surprising move one week ago to take down adult services ads on its classified Web site.
It will be the first time the firm addresses the topic of adult services and how online ads could be contributing to the trafficking of children and women. The San Francisco firms director of customer service and law enforcement, William Clint Powell, will be among several witnesses to appear before the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, and Homeland Security.
The hearing will address the role of online services in sex tafficking of minors, according to a source familiar with the committee's agenda.
The company has not commented on its decision to replace its adult services section with the label censored. Observers said the move was a political statement against pressure by several states attorneys generals for the company to stop the listing of erotic services that critics say has exacerbated trafficking and abuse.
The move has sparked debate over whether the removal of erotic ads can effectively help fight against prostitution and abuse. Anti-trafficking group Polaris Project says the popularity of the site has made it the Wal-mart of child prostitution. But others, including a researcher for Microsoft, said the containment of so many ads on one site could provide more clues for law enforcement on illegal activity and help fight crime.
Sex trafficking includes child sex slavery, child sex trafficking, prostitution of children, commercial sexual exploitation of children, and rape of a child. About 150,000 children are lured into prostitution each year, according to experts.
Lawmakers holding the hearing include Carolyn B. Maloney (D-N.Y.), Jackie Speier (D-Calif.), Ted Poe (R-Texas), Christopher H. Smith (R-N.J.), and Linda Smith, a former Congress member.
* Francey Hakes, national coordinator for Child, Exploitation Prevention and Interdiction, Justice Department
* Ernie Allen, president of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children
* Tina Frundt, executive director of Courtneys House
* Nicholas Sensley, chief of police, Truckee, Calif. Police Department
* Suzanna Tiapula, director, National Center for Prosecution of Child Abuse, National District Attorneys Association
*Deborah Richardson, chief program officer, Womens Funding Network
*William Clint Powell, director, Customer Service and Law Enforcement Relations, Craigslist
*Elizabeth Liz McDougall, partner at Perkins Coie, LLP in Seattle