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Craigslist Sued For Violating Fair Housing Laws

Zonk posted more than 8 years ago | from the not-good-form dept.

The Internet 429

The Good Reverend writes "The Associated Press has a report today about online classified site CraigsList being accused in a federal lawsuit of violating fair housing laws by publishing discriminatory classified ads. Current law, which applies to newspapers, prohibits ads that discriminate on the basis of race, gender, family status, religion, all of which can be found on Craigslist."

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The Actual postings... (3, Insightful)

MorderVonAllem (931645) | more than 8 years ago | (#14692430)

...are not the property of craigslist, it has far too many listings per day to constantly check each and every post to make sure it follows all applicable laws for each state it is accessible in. It's essentially a clearing house and as such it is protected against such lawsuits anyway.

Re:The Actual postings... (4, Funny)

biocute (936687) | more than 8 years ago | (#14692599)

True. Slashdot also has a fine print: "The following comments are owned by whoever posted them. We are not responsible for them in any way."

Oh by the way, I have an apartment for rent, only one requirement: Clean Godly Christian Male.

Re:The Actual postings... (4, Funny)

mattjb0010 (724744) | more than 8 years ago | (#14692686)

Oh by the way, I have an apartment for rent, only one requirement: Clean Godly Christian Male.

I have just the tenant for you [datejesus.com] ...

Re:The Actual postings... (1)

Jerf (17166) | more than 8 years ago | (#14692683)

It's essentially a clearing house and as such it is protected against such lawsuits anyway.

Citation?

I believe you are thinking of the safe harbor part of the DMCA [chillingeffects.org] , a part of the DMCA which could use some tweaking perhaps but is fundamentally sound. But that only protects [cornell.edu] :
A service provider shall not be liable for monetary relief, or, except as provided in subsection (j), for injunctive or other equitable relief, for infringement of copyright by reason of the provider's transmitting, routing, or providing connections for, material through a system or network controlled or operated by or for the service provider, or by reason of the intermediate and transient storage of that material
Emphasis mine (obviously). This is a limited protection against copyright claims, not carte blanche to violate the law as long as you do it in a big way with your eyes closed.

So, you got another specific safe harbor in mind?

Re:The Actual postings... (5, Informative)

tmittz (260795) | more than 8 years ago | (#14692760)

Not sure if he's specifically thinking of this act, but the Communications Decency Act [wikipedia.org] will almost certainly protect them. The Ninth Circuit already came down in a very similar case (Fair Housing Council of San Fernando Valley v. Roommate.Com, LLC., 33 Media L. Rep. 1636 (C.D. Cal. Sept. 30, 2005)) that the online ads were protected. While this certainly isn't binding on the present case, it is persuasive, and there are various other rulings that suggest the CDA is a very broad and powerful statute.

Why Linux is shit (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14692734)

For starters, even though it's been more than 10 years, there is still the nasty bug that causes Linux to reboot every 47.9 days. Will this ever be fixed??

Re:The Actual postings... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14692795)

the actual listings are not the property of craigslist

Doesn't matter. Craigslist has an obligation to make sure postings do not discriminate, EVER. Craigslist should inspect each post, interview each poster, determine their intent, look for racist overtones, homophobic tendencies, whatever. They should make sure the posters have never even thought anything that could be construed as anti-Islamic as we all know the moment someone even contemplates drawing a cartoon, the Muslims go wacko and kill a dozen innocents.

If they have the slightest hunch that there is a bias, they should immediately file lawsuits against the bigot to bring them to justice. Of course, if they are wrong, they'll be shut down for defamation and other charges.

Yup, that oughtta do...

gnaa fp (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14692432)

first post fucking niggers

For real? (3, Insightful)

iamlucky13 (795185) | more than 8 years ago | (#14692439)

Wait a sec, doesn't craigslist have one of these?
The Fine Print: The following comments are owned by whoever posted them. We are not responsible for them in any way.
And surely there must be some similar cases that have been brought up (and dismissed, I hope) before.

Publisher or distributor? (2, Insightful)

beldraen (94534) | more than 8 years ago | (#14692549)

IANAL.. blah, blah, blah..

In general, if a service makes no attempt to censor its contents, it can be considered a distributor and is not responsible for its content; thus, that is why internet news groups do not get ISPs in trouble. If Craig's list makes any attempt to regulate the content (removes postings, states criteria, etc), it is a publisher and is subject to being liable for its content. As for where they stand? That's going to be up to the court.

Re:For real? (4, Insightful)

Zeinfeld (263942) | more than 8 years ago | (#14692565)

The Fine Print: The following comments are owned by whoever posted them. We are not responsible for them in any way.

And like the sign in the garage that says 'we are not responsible for anything' it has no effect. The point of those disclaimers is that they discourage the ignorant from filing suit, not that they have legal effect. If you can proved that you suffered a loss as a result of negligence on the part of the garage then you can sue, the right to sue for negligence cannot be surrendered under contract law.

I don't think that the arguments being advanced by the Internet legal experts are the right ones for craigslist to use. They are the ones that those lawyers would like craigslist to use but that does not make them the ones most likely to win this particular case.

There is plenty of case law that has upheld the constitutionality of anti-discrimination laws such as the fair housing act. Congress did not intend to give online companies a pass on those acts and intentionally facilitate discrimination.

If craigslist did win that way it would be a shortlived victory. Congress would clarify its intentions soon enough.

The best defense for craigslist is to do what they are doing and saying that they have taken every reasonable precaution to ensure that discriminatory ads are not published and that these precautions are effective.

Saying 'not our problem' is the worst thing they could do. Courts do not like people telling them that the law does not apply to them.

Speaking of ignorance... (4, Informative)

porkchop_d_clown (39923) | more than 8 years ago | (#14692606)

There is plenty of case law that has upheld the constitutionality of anti-discrimination laws such as the fair housing act. Congress did not intend to give online companies a pass on those acts and intentionally facilitate discrimination.

There's also plenty of case law [businessweek.com] saying that online services are not responsible for the content of messages published. There is no evidence that Craigslist itself was discriminating against anyone - particularly since they have procedures for removing any ads which trigger complaints.

More Illegalities at CraigsList (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14692667)

I am surprised that Craigslist is, only now, facing legal problems. In June of 2005, "Diablo Magazine reported that both Craigslist and myRedbook actively facilitate the sale of prostitution services [diablomag.com] ". Typically, a prostitute (of any age) will post a message to either CraigsList [craigslist.org] or myRedbook [myredbook.com] and will offer explicit sexual acts for money.

Of the two culprits, myRedbook is more grossly egregious in facilitating prostitution. For example, myRedbook offers reviews of prostitutes, including those who work at the Mitchell Brother's O'Farrell Theater (located at 895 O'Farrell Street, San Francisco, California). Law enforcement makes no attempt, whatsoever, to stop this illegal activity.

Perhaps, the "Internet Age" means "I-do-whatever-I-want Age". Just last week, Reporters without Borders discovered that Yahoo! has been enthusiastically helping the Beijing government to arrest and imprison reporters.

Well duh... (3, Informative)

wbren (682133) | more than 8 years ago | (#14692440)

Well duh, it's Craigslist. I can also find prostitutes [craigslist.com] , free porn [craigslist.org] and Madeline dolls [craigslist.org] .

Re:Well duh... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14692516)

> Well duh, it's Craigslist. I can also find prostitutes

+5 informative.

Re:Well duh... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14692527)

I'm pretty sure what's going on in their politics section is violating some laws as well...
http://losangeles.craigslist.org/pol/ [craigslist.org]
Craigslist is not for the feint of heart.
Sorry, too tired and can't seem to get the HTML right to put a decent link.

Re:Well duh... (1)

Hecatonchires (231908) | more than 8 years ago | (#14692690)

And why did I click on the Madeline link first?

(and while she may be very small, on the inside, she's tall!)

Re:Well duh... (2, Funny)

Minwee (522556) | more than 8 years ago | (#14692778)

And if you look around hard enough, you'll also find somebody who will combine the three for you for the right price.

More Illegalities at CraigsList (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14692812)

I am surprised that Craigslist is, only now, facing legal problems. In June of 2005, "Diablo Magazine reported that both Craigslist and myRedbook actively facilitate the sale of prostitution services [diablomag.com] ". Typically, a prostitute (of any age) will post a message to either CraigsList [craigslist.org] or myRedbook [myredbook.com] and will offer explicit sexual acts for money.

Of the two culprits, myRedbook is more grossly egregious in facilitating prostitution. For example, myRedbook offers reviews of prostitutes, including those who work at the Mitchell Brother's O'Farrell Theater (located at 895 O'Farrell Street, San Francisco, California). Law enforcement makes no attempt, whatsoever, to stop this illegal activity.

Perhaps, the "Internet Age" means "I-do-whatever-I-want Age". Just last week, Reporters without Borders discovered that Yahoo! has been enthusiastically helping the Beijing government to arrest and imprison reporters.

That explains it... (4, Informative)

wilburdg (178573) | more than 8 years ago | (#14692446)

I was wondering why craigslist added the following text to all their housing related pages:

Fair Housing Is Everyone's Right

Stating a discriminatory preference in a housing post is illegal

When making any posting on craigslist, you must comply with section 3604(c) of the Federal Fair Housing Act.

Re:That explains it... (4, Informative)

Phanatic1a (413374) | more than 8 years ago | (#14692582)

Craigslist will be fine. Roommates.com was sued for the exact same behavior, supposedly violating the exact same statute, and they won an easy victory [ericgoldman.org] .

Re:That explains it... (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14692628)

Of course that statute is in direct violation of the constitution and the right of free association guaranteed in the bill of rights. If I'm a Christian, and I have a room to let, I have EVERY right to deny satanists or blacks or women or three-headed pink wobbleboynkers from Neptune if I so desire. Nobody has an inherent right to be able to live on my property.

Re:That explains it... (0, Offtopic)

eno2001 (527078) | more than 8 years ago | (#14692798)

Give me your home address and we'll have a little chat. I think you'll be convinced after hearing what I have to say. ;P

More Illegalities at CraigsList (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14692732)

I am surprised that Craigslist is, only now, facing legal problems. In June of 2005, "Diablo Magazine reported that both Craigslist and myRedbook actively facilitate the sale of prostitution services [diablomag.com] ". Typically, a prostitute (of any age) will post a message to either CraigsList [craigslist.org] or myRedbook [myredbook.com] and will offer explicit sexual acts for money.

Of the two culprits, myRedbook is more grossly egregious in facilitating prostitution. For example, myRedbook offers reviews of prostitutes, including those who work at the Mitchell Brother's O'Farrell Theater (located at 895 O'Farrell Street, San Francisco, California). Law enforcement makes no attempt, whatsoever, to stop this illegal activity.

Perhaps, the "Internet Age" means "I-do-whatever-I-want Age". Just last week, Reporters without Borders discovered that Yahoo! has been enthusiastically helping the Beijing government to arrest and imprison reporters.

47 USC 230; craigslist wins (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14692453)

End of story. [techlawjournal.com]

(although we're in the 7th Circuit, and the issue is therefore a little more subtle, you can bet your sweet bippy the above will be dispositive)

Never end of story. (2, Informative)

www.sorehands.com (142825) | more than 8 years ago | (#14692801)

But, it is the start of the story. If the CDA was the end, then you would not have had CARAFANO v. MetroSplash 339 F.3d 1119. Which held that a matchmaking service was protected. This cited Gentry v. eBay, Inc., 99 Cal. App. 4th 816, 121 Cal.Rptr.2d 703 (Cal. Ct. App. 2002) which said that the Ebay's customer ratings were protected under the CDA.

Roommate listings (3, Funny)

pin_gween (870994) | more than 8 years ago | (#14692457)

are they illegal? the ones like "23 yr old female seeks female to share rent, utilities"
I mean, I'd love to offer my services despite that damning gender clause

Re:Roommate listings (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14692523)

If you're seeking a roommate, gender is pretty much the only preference you're allowed to state. Note that this exception *only* applies if you will be living with the other person, not if you're just renting out a property you own.

Re:Roommate listings (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14692556)

Good taste is the only rule governing roommate wanted ads (as opposed to for-rent ads by landlords.) Age and career are fair game, as well as lifestyle, etc. I've seen many that say "Asian seeking same". Since the idea is that you will be sharing a living space it's all based on preference (and chemistry) and you can't really sue for discrimination.

Of course it's just simply not a good idea to say "blacks need not apply"... And no newspaper would run it... But it's not illegal.

Re:Roommate listings (1)

coyote-san (38515) | more than 8 years ago | (#14692601)

Are you sure about that? I thought that all of the restrictions were waived when you're physically sharing the same space.

Re:Roommate listings (3, Interesting)

linguae (763922) | more than 8 years ago | (#14692618)

Hmmm, read Section 804 of the Fair Housing Act [usdoj.gov] , then come back with your findings. Here is one interesting section:

[It shall be unlawful] to make, print, or publish, or cause to be made, printed, or published any notice, statement, or advertisement, with respect to the sale or rental of a dwelling that indicates any preference, limitation, or discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, handicap, familial status, or national origin, or an intention to make any such preference, limitation, or discrimination.

So, does that mean that all of the "looking for a nice Christan male" advertisements are illegal because they are discriminating against non-Chritstans and females? I see those advertisements all the time.

Disclaimer/Warning: I am a black poster, who is also libertarian. Be prepared for libertarianism and discrimination issues.

Hmmm, shouldn't the owner of the property have a say in what roommates they should pick? After all, no anti-discrimination law will stop racism, sexism, anti-homosexuality, ageism, xenophobia, and other social ills. It does no good to live in the same space as a bigot, or to accept services and goods from people who wouldn't serve me (what's better, a sign at a restaurant telling me that I'm not allowed, or shoddy service because of my background; they have to let me in, but they can give me terrible service and remain within the law as long as they don't utter a slur. And if I notice that, then I'm accused of "thoughtcrime" and paranoia.).

Don't get me wrong. I am a vehemoth opponent of Jim Crow laws (that is when a city or state uses government power to restrict freedoms of certain people), and I do not support the types of discrimination enumerated in the various anti-discrimination laws. However, I am a supporter of private property rights, too. I believe that homeowners should be free to decide which types of roomates that they want.

I wonder what other minority libertarians and minority people of other similar beliefs (such as classical liberals, small-government conservatives of the Goldwater mold, and anarchocapitalists) have to say?

Re:Roommate listings (1)

hsmith (818216) | more than 8 years ago | (#14692646)

wait stop the presses, you mean you wouldn't want to know ahead of time the person you may live with is a bigot!

i never understand the limited forsight of elected politicians. the only thing we need protection from is government discrimination, because you can't do anything about that.

Re:Roommate listings (1)

soft_guy (534437) | more than 8 years ago | (#14692662)

Don't get me wrong. I am a vehemoth opponent of Jim Crow laws (that is when a city or state uses government power to restrict freedoms of certain people), and I do not support the types of discrimination enumerated in the various anti-discrimination laws.

I don't see any inconsistancy in your view point. You don't like Jim Crow. You also don't like "Crow Jim".

Also, "Nice Christian Male" discriminates against "Mean Christian Male".

From TFA (0, Troll)

monkaduck (902823) | more than 8 years ago | (#14692463)

From TFA:

The lawsuit seeks, among other things, to require Craigslist to report to the government any individual seeking to post a discriminatory ad and to develop screening software to preclude discriminatory ads from being published on its Web site.

Does this mean that the lawsuit is less about making universal off and onling rules, or to report "potential threats" to Bush and Co.?

Re:From TFA (1)

kfg (145172) | more than 8 years ago | (#14692505)

If by "threat" you mean the "lack of an FBI dossier on every man, woman and child who might do something we don't like, which means every man, woman, child and their pets":

Yes.

KFG

Re:From TFA (0, Flamebait)

twiddlingbits (707452) | more than 8 years ago | (#14692550)

How fscking stupid can you iberals be? Next thing the weather you don't like will be the fault of GWB. The Fair Housing Laws have been around a LONG time and they can ASK for violations to be reported but can't require it. You can ask for the moon to be made of cheese in a lawsuit, it doesn't mean you are going to get it. I'm sure POTUS has more things on his mind than what Craigslist is doing or not doing.

Go ahead, mod me down to Troll.. I got lotsa Karma.

Re:From TFA (1, Interesting)

Zeinfeld (263942) | more than 8 years ago | (#14692579)

How fscking stupid can you iberals be? Next thing the weather you don't like will be the fault of GWB

Only to the extent that he is doing nothing to stop global warming has done his best to prevent increasing fuel economy restrictions on cars and in particular SUV and has intentionally disrupted other nations attempts to address the problem.

Re:From TFA (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14692845)

Since when does the government dictate to me what I want to drive? If I want to drive a Viper that gets less than 15 MPG, who's to stop me? There's more than just SUV's at fault here. How many of us drive to and from work with just us in the vehicle? I have to, because I drive for my job, but before my current employment, I was just a guilty of not car pooling/bus/whatnot.

Why should the Government dictate business strategies to business? GM/Ford/Dodge have all had problems producing attractive, fuel efficent cars in the past, so they rested on their laurels selling SUV and Pickups for hand over fist profit. There's a reason why Toyota/Honda/Hyundai are all doing well in the small to mid size car market: They listened to the customer.

The US mfrs aren't the only vehicle builders that build large inefficent vehicles: Toyota Tundra? Nissan Titan? Honda Ridgeline? Mitsubishi Montero? All of these vehicles exist for a reason: There was a market segment that said that they would purchase them, that cared more for utility or "a big, safe vehicle" than efficency.

When the Government gets involved in the free market, typically only bad things start to happen. DMCA anyone? While there are exceptions to this, they are few and far between. I've never understood why anyone thinks that mob rule was a good thing, which is what is essentially happening in the US. I'd love it if the Gov would just get the hell out of my life, and get back to the basics: Securing the nation from threats, internal and external.

Oh yeah, the Interstates are nice too, but they serve first a military purpose anyway, so that can fall under "Securing the nation"

Lawyers looking for work? (3, Insightful)

core plexus (599119) | more than 8 years ago | (#14692465)

While I am against discrimination, I believe there are far too many lawyers looking for fame and fortune.

This case is a non-starter, and the Judge should sanction the plaintiffs, IMO.

Re:Lawyers looking for work? (1)

bladernr (683269) | more than 8 years ago | (#14692503)

While I am against discrimination, I believe there are far too many lawyers looking for fame and fortune.

Welcome to the world of the Trail Lawyer's Bar. Just vote against anyone that lends them their support and our country will be a better place.

Re:Lawyers looking for work? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14692542)

Actually, George W Bush promised some level of tort reform during his election.

I'll bet you didn't vote for him, though.

Re:Lawyers looking for work? (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14692598)

I'll bet you didn't vote for him, though.

That's ok, it turned out he was lying anyway.

Re:Lawyers looking for work? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14692506)

IANAL, but I don't anal.

Re:Lawyers looking for work? (2, Informative)

Tyrant Chang (69320) | more than 8 years ago | (#14692592)

Ummm, if you read the article it says that the lawsuit was filed by "Chicago Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, Inc." which is affiliated with "National Fair Housing Alliance" not some plaintiff lawyer.

If you go to their site, it says it is a "public interest law consortium of Chicago's leading law firms" and it tries to "preserve affordable housing, advocates for the rights and interests of poor children"

And if you go to National Fair Housing site it says it "is the only national organization dedicated soley to end discrimination in housing"

While they might be looking for fame, I highly doubt that they are looking for fortune. I would say they are more like EFF, ACLU, NAACP - trying to advance their social issue through the legal system.

Now if you want to argue that judicial system is not the best system to fix society's problems...that would be a whole different issue.

Re:Lawyers looking for work? (2, Interesting)

damsa (840364) | more than 8 years ago | (#14692723)

Actually, quite a few poverty lawyers make quite a bit of money on civil rights laws as the statutes award attorney's fees which is usually quite a bit more than actual damages. Not that their motives aren't noble, but it's not exactly a non profit organization.

Re:Lawyers looking for work? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14692796)

Shh! You're not supposed to ruin the LAWYERS BAD discussion. Lawyers hurt businesses by making them "accountable" for "harming" people. Like that one little old lady who got the McDonalds coffee and had to have skin grafts for the third degree burns! She was awarded millions by the jury! (and we'll overlook the fact that McDonald's didn't actually pay her the required sum.) "Haw, haw! She shure hit th' jackpot!"

Everyone hates lawyers, they're despicable scum who should be placed in special "camps" and gassed for the sin of working to forward their own interests, unlike the noble businessman who creates jobs and moves the economy purely out of the kindness of his heart! Any suggestion that people who dislike lawyers should move to a place without them, like Somalia, to see how they like it, is a dangerous and subversive idea that is not allowed.

Why sue the messenger? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14692484)

...shouldn't it be the folks who placed the discriminatory ad, rather than the publisher, who should be held accountable?

anti-discriminatory laws (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14692485)

I've always wondered what's the point of these laws? I agree it is offensive to see a "NO MINORITIES" ad, but the reality is that the people who post such ads will never take a minority tenant regardless of whether they mention it in the ad or not.

It's happened to me several times that when I call a landlord they sometimes refuse to even let me see the place under the pretext that it's already taken. Then I ask my girlfriend to call, and they tell her it's available and let her go see it.

Re:anti-discriminatory laws (2, Funny)

PaulBu (473180) | more than 8 years ago | (#14692589)

I've always wondered what's the point of these laws? I agree it is offensive to see a "NO MINORITIES" ad...

Would you feel the same about a "NO MINORS" ad (err, "disclaimer")? ;-)

Paul B.
 

Re:anti-discriminatory laws (1)

TubeSteak (669689) | more than 8 years ago | (#14692730)

Well I certainly wouldn't want to be renting out to Minors.

I mean... They should be shooting for a Major. You don't get a diploma for a 'minor' in anything at college.

I can discriminate if they won't double major can't I?

The "No Screaming Baby" Section (2, Interesting)

queenb**ch (446380) | more than 8 years ago | (#14692817)

Personally, I'd pay extra to sit in the "no screaming baby" and "no squealing brat" section at the movie theater, restraunt, etc. I'd certainly pay extra to live in an apartment complex that had the same kind of rules. Unfortunately, thanks to the "fair housing" act *MY* preferences in the matter are disregarded. I end up with neighbors who have poorly disciplined, destructive children. I have had several incidents involving chidren and theft or children and vandalism. While I deal with the process within the law, I would rather not have to deal with it at all. It's a PITA. If I had property to lease out, I'd certainly want to put things like "No kids and no pets."

While we're on the subject, I'd also like to see a "No jackass screaming into the cell phone section", especially at the movie theater. Face it, we all have things that annoy us. Why shouldn't people be allowed to be upfront about that? I understand that what we're looking to prevent here is the creation of ghettos, in the true sense of the word, were people are segregated to specific sections of town. I think, though, that unless you're posting about 5 units or more, it shouldn't apply.

If I'm leasing a room in my house, theres a lot of trust and personal comfort involved in that. My jewish families won't let someone who isn't jewish stay with them, because of the Sabbat. Sabbat begins on Friday at sunset and ends at sunset on Saturday. Specific rules must be observed during that time. Some sects of Christianity feel the same way about Sundays. I'm sure other religions have similar issues.

Bleh! If people want to discriminate, let them. They'll do it anyway, at least if it's in the open, you can save your time.

2 cents,

Queen B

Can't be Racist Unless... (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14692489)

you're racist against white males. It's always boggled my mind how white males are not protected, we're the majority, but that doesnt mean we're not discriminated again. WTH we're these guys thinking when they allow asian restaraunts to turn down whites because theyre not asian?

NO MINORITIES (1)

Yog-Soth (108846) | more than 8 years ago | (#14692492)

No minorities, no xtians, no jews, no muslims, only disciples of Satan

Here is the difference. MONEY (2, Informative)

layer3switch (783864) | more than 8 years ago | (#14692496)

If it was free service as in Slashdot posting free, sure, it shouldn't matter what crackpot ads are on Craigslist. BUT that's not the case. Craigslist DOES take money for posting ads by collecting fee from ad posters.

Hence Craigslist is directly responsible for allowing discriminatory ads.

Get the facts.

Re:Here is the difference. MONEY (3, Informative)

log0n (18224) | more than 8 years ago | (#14692578)

I think you're confused. Or you've never used Craigslist.

It doesn't cost anything to post an ad on Craigslist. And there's no traditional internet advertising (ie google adsense, yahoo ads, etc) from which to generate revenue.

I'm not sure how Craig makes money, but I'm pretty sure it's not from advertising.

Re:Here is the difference. MONEY (1)

soft_guy (534437) | more than 8 years ago | (#14692679)

I thought I read (a few days ago) that they were going to start charging for housing ads.

Re:Here is the difference. MONEY (1)

barc0001 (173002) | more than 8 years ago | (#14692806)

They did just announce plans to charge in the near future. How much do you want to bet that this very lawsuit was the catalyst for that decision? Probably figured they're going to have to pay people to read and vet all the housing ads from now on.

Sigh. Lawyers and idiots ruin something else for everyone so they can get a few bucks..

Re:Here is the difference. MONEY (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14692590)

Except...you're wrong.

Anyone can post a housing ad on Craigslist, for free.

Here is the difference. NO MONEY! (1)

microcars (708223) | more than 8 years ago | (#14692620)

I corrected your post:

If it was free service as in Slashdot posting free, sure, it shouldn't matter what crackpot ads are on Craigslist. SO that's not the case. Craigslist DOES NOT take money for posting HOUSING ads by collecting fee from HOUSING ad posters.

Hence Craigslist is NOT responsible for allowing discriminatory ads.

Get the facts.

Desperate Lawyers (2, Interesting)

putko (753330) | more than 8 years ago | (#14692500)

It is a case of some desperate, moneygrubbing lawyers - trying to make something off of Craig.

One option people are not talking about would be to get rid of the fair housing act, which would allow property owners the freedom to do with their property as they wish.

One problem with the current regime is that the federal housing authority usually only goes after white people discriminating against non-whites. That's stupid because these days, in places like New York or LA, most of the discrimination is taking place between different non-white groups. E.g. hispanics only renting to hispanics (and not blacks).

I Challenge YOU... (1)

PaulBu (473180) | more than 8 years ago | (#14692607)

... to mod this one up! (posted before in this thread, you know...).

Paul B.

I'm Pro Choice (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14692504)

I believe individuals have a right to decide with whom they transact business. Like most people, I have my personal likes and dislikes. I don't want the state imposing its will on me. Government does not belong in getting involved with personal choice.

Exactly (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14692820)

Like so much of progressive policy the cure is worse than the disease.Fair housing law did not secure a right it eliminated one.The only beneficiaries are the lawyers.

*shakes head* (1)

Xserv (909355) | more than 8 years ago | (#14692509)

You absolutely have to be kidding me. Craigslist has disclaimer's for that stuff. It's just like the people who were complaining about the fact that, in some markets, charging for listings of rental properties was "unlawful" and "unfair" when it's necessary to keep the people who are abusing the system from doing it.

Damn lawyers . . .

Here the Lawyers are now (1)

putko (753330) | more than 8 years ago | (#14692517)

Here are the lawyers that are suing Craig: http://www.clccrul.org/list.htm [clccrul.org]

Re:Here the Lawyers are now (1)

BerkeleyDude (827776) | more than 8 years ago | (#14692576)

Here are the lawyers that are suing Craig: http://www.clccrul.org/list.htm [clccrul.org]

If all of us suddenly decided to visit it...

Is anyone else thinking what I'm thinking?

Finally the free lunch is over? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14692533)

I for one hope they're successful in this; craigslist is a medium like any other; and the burdeon of who is better equipped to deal with descriminatory advertising is clearly on the publisher.

Its nice to waive the whole ISP, it doesnt belong to me I only count my adsense $ flag....but lets be real here... A newspaper has the exact same revenue model but has to deal with the legislation and fact checking et all. Why should the web get a free ride? How is posting to craigslist any different than calling up the local classified newspaper.

If they cant afford to comply with the legislation, tell your representative, or leave the market to those who can. Aiding descrimination on the grounds it would be prohibitively costly likely wont get you far in the state capital.

Re:Finally the free lunch is over? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14692840)

Yep, sounds like a plan to me. Freedom of the press should belong only to those who can afford to buy ink by the tank-car load.

And I'll bet you call yourself a "liberal," too.

Bullshit. (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14692538)

There is nothing wrong withd discriminating when choosing a roommate. Some people naturally feel more comfortable living with the same sex. Some people are more comfortable living with people their own age.

They listed:

race, gender, family status, religion

Race - although there is no good reason to discriminate based on this, some cultures have attitudes that create conflicts.

Gender - some people (maybe most) are more comfortable being roommates with the same sex.

Family Status - If I'm a college student, I don't want to be living with a single mother with a baby. That's not the housing situation you want to be in. People live very different lives and some people in some situations just don't fit together.

Religion - If I'm a christian, I probably don't want a large atheist symbol decorated around the house.

You see, in situations where it doesn't matter, discrimination is bad. In the case of living situations where roommates must get along, it's a necessity.

You can't stop the discrimination anyway. Everyone has their preferences. Whether they screen in their post or after someone calls, people will still get screened, so the attempt is largely ineffective anyway.

it's not a *newspaper* (2, Informative)

sdnoob (917382) | more than 8 years ago | (#14692543)

craigslist is not a newspaper. if the law is that specific, then however flawed it may be today, it still does not apply.

also, from the article:

EBay Inc. owns 25 percent of Craigslist.

perhaps someone is just smelling easy money?

The site last month added a yellow link on each housing ad warning that "Stating a discriminatory preference in a housing post is illegal." When clicked, users get information about the Fair Housing Act and guidance on how to write ads that comply.

that, along with a disclaimer stating that postings are the property and sole responsibility of the poster should remove craiglist's legal responsibility; however they can be good net citizens by taking some editorial control over listings (which they've also done); *especially* if they're being paid for the listing.

Several Internet law experts said the suit seems likely to fail, citing a 1996 federal law that says an online service provider isn't considered a publisher or a speaker when it merely passes along information provided by someone else.

this could come back to bite blogs right in the ass, because blogs are looking for credibility as news publishers. many contain summaries and links of other blogs, so they're just 'passing along' information as well; and they feature interactive services (such as comments, polls, and other content like a portal or other 'service provider')... yet a successful defense by craigslist on this ground would shoot that all to hell.

Re:it's not a *newspaper* (2, Insightful)

Vellmont (569020) | more than 8 years ago | (#14692696)


this could come back to bite blogs right in the ass, because blogs are looking for credibility as news publishers. many contain summaries and links of other blogs


Well, assuming the 1996 law truly does cover online service providers, why would it cover blog authors? A blog clearly IS a publication, and obviously that's it's intent. Why would you think a blog author is an online service provider?

Housing Discrimination = better than alternative ? (4, Insightful)

freddie (2935) | more than 8 years ago | (#14692546)

A lot of people on craigslist are looking for roommates. That is something more than just renting some random piece of property to a random person. Most people looking for roommates may have in mind somebody of an age-range, ethnicity, religion, or sex that is compatible with them. People ought to be able to select roommates on whatever criteria they feel is appropiate.

Suppose people feel intimidated and stop posting their preferences in the ads. They're still going to have their preference though they might not tell you. For example, suppose you are a girl, and the person is looking for a male roommate. Then you'll end up showing to see a property that the owner is not really prepared to rent out to you, wasting your time and wasting their time. I don't think anybody really wants that.

Re:Housing Discrimination = better than alternativ (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14692707)

Yeah, now we will have to go back to waiting til the person shows up, see that they are niggers, and then tell them that the place is already rented instead of just writing, "No Niggers, please" in the ad and saving yourself a lot of time.

Re:Housing Discrimination = better than alternativ (4, Informative)

damsa (840364) | more than 8 years ago | (#14692748)

Roommates fall outside of Fair Housing laws. You can discriminate all you want. You have the first amendment freedom of association clause to thank for that. The FHA applies to people renting apartments, houses and the like.

Re:Housing Discrimination = better than alternativ (1)

Anusien (705743) | more than 8 years ago | (#14692768)

And suppose you are a good white Christian who hates all minorities, gays, Jews and Muslims? Should you be able to post THAT ad?

Re:Housing Discrimination = better than alternativ (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14692794)

Yes, you should. Restricting what people can put in the ad will not change how they feel about others.

Re:Housing Discrimination = better than alternativ (4, Insightful)

Wordsmith (183749) | more than 8 years ago | (#14692818)

Sure. Think about it this way: If you were a gay Jewish-born Muslim convert, would you really want to live with the guy who posted it?

People need to wrap their heads around the idea that freedom includes the freedom to be a jackass. Some people have offensive views. They should be allowed to express them; others should be allowed to refute them. And they should be allowed to do with their own private property as they please; no one has an inherent right to live with me, and I'm only going to enter into an agreement to share my home with someone I find agreeable - I don't need to justify my definition of "agreeable" to anyone but myself. And if I'm looking to rent out a home, I should be able to rent it out to whomever I please. If I want to artificially cut out a segment of potential renters, thereby reducing the marketability of my place and possibly its dollar value, so be it. I'm a jackass for it, but again, no one had a right to that property, and no one had an opportunitiy to use it until I chose to put it on the market anyway.

Who's the fair housing act applying to? (1)

British (51765) | more than 8 years ago | (#14692547)

Is it applying to just official landlords who have apartments, all the paperwork, yackety yack...

or...

Is it applying to homeowners that has a spare room for rent? Ie someone that can't get ratted out if the a/c breaks and the owner doesn't fix it?

Re:Who's the fair housing act applying to? (1)

damsa (840364) | more than 8 years ago | (#14692763)

FHA doesn't apply to homeowners who rent out a room in their own home in which they also reside in. But if you move out and rent out rooms then the FHA would apply.

This /. article... (2, Funny)

Scorpion_1169 (609426) | more than 8 years ago | (#14692554)

This /. article has been removed by the craiglist community.

Craigslist, eh? (-1, Offtopic)

CRCulver (715279) | more than 8 years ago | (#14692577)

If I might put up an advertisement for my Craigslist advertisement, I offer professional typesetting services [craigslist.org] . See the linked-to Craigslist ad for more details. Don't worry, I won't refuse to beautifully typeset your work and make it print-ready on the basis of race, gender, family status, or religion.

Obligatory Bill of Rights post (2, Interesting)

cr@ckwhore (165454) | more than 8 years ago | (#14692585)

Amendment I - Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

Sounds pretty clear to me.

Re:Obligatory Bill of Rights post (1)

kfg (145172) | more than 8 years ago | (#14692622)

Sounds pretty clear to me.

You need 'training.' Let me take you into the 'classroom' and 'splain it to you. Thwap! Thwap! Thwap!

KFG

Re:Obligatory Bill of Rights post (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14692695)

Let me introduce you to the Sedition Act of 1798:

That if any person shall write, print, utter. Or publish, or shall cause or procure to be written, printed, uttered or published, or shall knowingly and willingly assist or aid in writing, printing, uttering or publishing any false, scandalous and malicious writing or writings against the government of the United States, or either house of the Congress of the United States, or the President of the United States, with intent to defame the said government, or either house of the said Congress, or the said President, or to bring them. or either of them, into contempt or disrepute; or to excite against them, or either or any of them, the hatred of the good people of the United States, or to excite any unlawful combinations therein, for opposing or resisting any law of the United States, or any act of the President of the United States, done in pursuance of any such law, or of the powers in him vested by the constitution of the United States, or to resist, oppose, or defeat any such law or act, or to aid, encourage or abet any hostile designs of any foreign nation against the United States, their people or government, then such person, being thereof convicted before any court of the United States having jurisdiction thereof, shall be punished by a fine not exceeding two thousand dollars, and by imprisonment not exceeding two years.

You're allowed to speak freely only within a marginalized box. Thankfully, March 3rd, 1801, has passed come and gone... well, at least, we like to think it has.

Re:Obligatory Bill of Rights post (1)

linguae (763922) | more than 8 years ago | (#14692709)

And don't forget an overlooked, but very important amendment - the 10th Amendment:

The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.

This is also known as federalism, or "state rights." Anything not covered under the Constitution is left to the states, cities, and people to decide. Ideally, that is the way the country was (and should be) structures, a small federal government handling certain national issues that states can't provide individually, and the states control the rest. Unfortunately, this amendment has been largely shoved aside since 1933 (and some people will say 1861), and the federal government has now became very big and uses its weight a lot.

The other problem with the term "state rights" is that it has been attached to certain restrictive laws such as Jim Crow laws, to the point that whenever you say "state rights," some circles will think that this is a codename for Jim Crow laws and other similar laws. However, this disdain for the term has also lead to a disdain in the true spirit of federalism in general, and it is used as an excuse to expand federal power in all directions.

Re:Obligatory Bill of Rights post (1)

darkmeridian (119044) | more than 8 years ago | (#14692769)

Obligatory "fire in the theatre post. If I put an ad out which said, "Apartment for Rent: Blacks Need Not Apply", that's a problem. It's my house, sure, and I may really hate blackes (which is not illegal since it would be a thought crime). But I cannot exclude blacks. Nor can I post an ad saying that.

Morality (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14692597)

"From a moral standpoint, of course, people will expect that if you're going to run a site like that you ought to police it,"

Uhm...WHY? If I don't want to share a room with a jungle bunny lipped, wetback smelling, honkey motherfucker, why can I not say this when looking for a rentor of *MY PROPERTY*?

#1 Freedom of speech
#2 Freedom of press
#3 The right to (dis)associate

Those are 3 points of morality, obviously left by the wayside!

What if it was legal to state your preferences? (4, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14692612)

This may sound like a strange thing to say but as a lifelong tenant who's looked for dozens of apartments in a few different cities, I actually wish landlords were allowed to spell out their preferences (and prejudices.)

Fair housing laws are pretty much all lip service, IMO. It's not like employment laws where you can judge by qualifications-- there is no real way to measure who would make a good tenant. And landlords almost always have a certain type of person in mind-- maybe a newlywed couple, maybe a certain income or professional range, maybe straight (or gay) only, maybe Asian, Hispanic, White or Black. They'll take all applicants and go through all the motions because they have to, but in the end the lucky tenant is always the one who comes closest to the preconceived notion.

I'm not really saying we should go back to the days of "blacks need not apply"... But it would certainly save me as a prospective tenant a lot of time and hassle if landlords were free to let me know in advance I'm not what they're looking for.

This is utter stupidity. (1)

Khyber (864651) | more than 8 years ago | (#14692614)

Screw that, hold the landlord posting these tenant requirements responsible, as they're the ones breaking the law advertising that crap in the first place! If it's within the United States' borders, then these people should be following the laws of the United States when posting stuff to the internet, especially when it's dealing with real estate, and just happens to be business in the United States, which is bound by US Law, as is any other business regarding equal opportunity.

Re:This is utter stupidity. (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14692741)

You are wrong. Citizens have a responsibility to disobey corrupt laws. If we can learn anything from the late Dr. Martin Luther King, it is that. Civil disobedience against onerous "laws" is our duty as free men and women. Uncle Sam needs to stay out of our bedrooms in every way. Government interference with individual choices is intrusive, onerous, and beyond the pale. Just because some corrupt officials can push through a "law" does not make it "a right".

There is a response (1)

Digz (90264) | more than 8 years ago | (#14692673)

on Craiglist already.

You can see it here [craigslist.org] .

Basically looks like a bunch of nothing (even moreso) when you read the response.

This would lead to superficial changes only (1)

Girckin (831557) | more than 8 years ago | (#14692678)

Changing whether people post their preferences isn't actually going to change how people act. If a woman only wants a female room-mate her being forbidden to post that fact isn't going to change her preference. It only means that more people will contact her who she doesn't want to live with, and that she will have to turn down more contacts.

It just decreases the efficiency of the system, and provides a superficial illusion of change. It doesn't even remotely address any of the deeper issues actually related to discrimination which these lawyers claim to care about.

Freedom of Association (3, Insightful)

Void Incarnate (944745) | more than 8 years ago | (#14692687)

Whatever happened to people being able to freely associate, or not, with whomever they want? If someone has a place to rent and they only want to rent to a particular group, or exclude a group, who is anyone else to tell them what they can do with their property?

Re:Freedom of Association (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14692731)

Mod parent up.

You may not like it when people discriminate, but freedom of association trumps your right to force someone to do business with you even when they don't want to, regardless of the reason.

Re:Freedom of Association (2, Insightful)

damsa (840364) | more than 8 years ago | (#14692800)

You can freely associate, if you live in the property. You can discrimnate all you want. It's when you are using the home for income, then there is a problem. The act of excluding certain people from housing has a detrimental effect on commerce. If a motel refuses to rent to Canadians, then the city would lose money from Canadian tourists or there is a danger that Canadians would be forced to sleep out on the streets. So when you do business that is open to the public, you agree to certain rules, including the rule that you take in Canadians.

Re:Freedom of Association (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14692829)

Freedom of Association does not apply to the landlord/tenant relationship. You're not there to be friends, it's purely a business transaction, and it's illegal for the same reason running a "no blacks allowed" restaurant is illegal. I shouldn't need to be your friend or associate for you to take my money and provide a service to me, equally.

Courtroom as a model of life (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14692706)

It's fucking boring. Hell, any tiny thing triggers those army of high-paid lawyers, litigations, etc. And it is growing deeper and further, as snowball. Looks to me that in the future nobody gonna work, because all, absolutely all will be busy in court rooms, as victim or violator, whatever reason. At the same time, real criminals could easily avoid any prosecution just by using word trickacies invented by lawyers etc.

Do you love the perspective to spend 99% of your valuable lifetime in different courtrooms?
Even if you do not do anything wrong, any bastard can sue you just because you breath or walk...

On a related note... (4, Informative)

trims (10010) | more than 8 years ago | (#14692720)

I'm not sure how the ruling will classify (no pun intended) the ads on Craigslist - though I suspect that since there is no fee involved, Craigslist will have Common Carrier or equivalent status - I'm all for holding on-line sites to the same standard as print newspapers, so long as it TRULY the same standard.

That said, the relevant sections of the Fair Housing Act do NOT apply to ads for roommates or those looking to share a place they do not own. The law involves the Owner (or the duly-empowered representative) and any prospective lessee. I'm a little fuzzy on sub-leasing, but since most of that is a huge gray market anyway (most rental contracts forbid subleasing, but it's commonly ignored), I suspect that it isn't covered in the F.H.A. Note that if you own the place, renting out the spare room does make you the landlord, and you have to abide by the F.H.A. But if you're a renter, and just looking for a roommate, well, the F.H.A. doesn't apply, and you can specify that only Left Handed, Purple Skined Demon Sycophants can apply to be your roommate.

Most likely, the suit will get a summary judgement and be punted. But it at least should make those services which DO charge think about complying with the F.H.A. Which is only, well, fair.

-Erik

craiglist guy is honest person (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14692750)

I suggest to sign petition in support of craiglist.
The lawyers-monkeys just want more money.
I did not see them defending poor or people without money.
Also, they did not attack dangerous criminals when they should do.

From what I see it is very dirty profession, kind of prostitution, where prostitute decides who she will sleep with, for more money, that's it.

PC aims another gun at the head of commerce (1)

surfingmarmot (858550) | more than 8 years ago | (#14692804)

Political correctness has taken aim at the head of the freedom to conduct business and commerce and will kill a vehicle consumers use to economically market their wares. Big firms, the ones who can afford to police their postings, don't use Craig's List. No, it is the domain of ordinary folks. But because they are 'low budget' Craig's List cannot afford to police them and still keep rates affordable for the individual. Yeah, great idea, let's shut them down so some chump and their lawyer can earn a few buck while taking a breather from ambulance chasing. So, in the siprit of smashing a fly with a sledge hammer, let's shut this one down. Pretty soon, in this overly-litigious society, only major corporations with big money will be able to do anything public to earn money. First free speech, now the right to earn a buck--what's left of freedom after that? Just freedom to open one's wallet I guess. How sad.
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